Going to the beach in the summer time was just part of the upbringing of a typical Southern California boy. The mixture of the sand, sea salt, wind, and bonfire smoke was probably the first cologne that ever hung across my neck.
When I was a kid, I remember going to the beach on one particular hot summer’s day.
My family had settled on a spot on the sand, and once we had put down all of our stuff, my siblings and I stripped down to our swim shorts and bathing suits. Then we ran to the shore to meet up with the chaotic mystery that was the vast sea. It was deep and endless. Something we couldn’t even fathom.
I remember I didn’t go all the way in. I kept near the shore with the other kids my age. Meanwhile, my siblings, proud and rebellious in their teenage years, went as far out into the waves as they could.
But even while I kept near the shore, the chaos of the waves still reached me.
One time, I wasn’t paying attention and a strong wave came over and pummeled me to the ground. Even though I was near the shore, where the waves were smaller, the sea’s force was still powerful there and it felt as if an invisible arm of granite suddenly yanked me down. I was tossed around. Sand got into every orifice. I emerged on the other side with spit and boogers all over my face. I was disoriented. I was dizzy, lost, and, most of all, furious.
How could a force of nature be so brutal to me? I wondered. How could this wave be so unforgiving to a child who had just made the innocent mistake of not paying attention?
But as the sea calmed again, I quickly forgot my fury. I began to splash through the saltwater once more, happily, imagining myself as The God of The Sea. As I played, I felt the cool water brush though my legs. I got caught up in the amazing vastness of the ocean and I was puzzled by my inability to wrap my head around its great mystery.
Then, as I became distracted, another wave came by and pummeled me to the ground. Once more, I was caught in a whirlwind of sand and water—swallowed, maldigested, and then spit out at the other end. Again, I emerged disoriented from the brutal attack. Again, I was upset that I was an innocent victim of the unforgiving waves.
Upset, I retreated from the shore to return to where my parents were sitting. But as I left, my siblings emerged from the waves and tried to stop me from giving up. They urged me to follow them deeper into the water instead.
I was terrified by the idea, but they were not.
My siblings had learned how to deal with chaos, and believed that I was ready to learn how to deal with it, too. They explained to me that when I got out into the middle of the sea, I had to pay close attention. I had to constantly be aware. They told me that as the wave approached me, I had to dive into the wave, or I would risk being thrust about and spit out onto the shore.
It was a simple lesson, but such a powerful one:
When the wave comes, don’t underestimate it. Be prepared for it. Don’t try to outrun it, just dive into it. Respect its power and majesty over you, a mere human. Then dive to the depths underneath.
And so, after I heard my siblings’ advice, I reluctantly took one of their hand’s. I allowed them to take me further and further out into the ocean. Together, we went deeper and deeper into the water, until my little feet could no longer touch the floor, and I had to keep kicking just to stay afloat.
Soon, a small wave approached us. In a matter of seconds, the wave became three times as big. Once the wave reached the spot where we were at, it was truly immense. At that moment, instead of trying to outrun the wave as it approached me, I did what I was told do to and obediently dived into it. I dived into the core of the wave.
All went silent. All went dark.
Surprisingly, all was still, too. Completely still. It was only on the surface that the waves crashed and spit and made white foam.
I was mesmerized.
Soon, I heard the world above me grow quiet again. I re-emerged and took a big gulp of fresh air.
I looked behind me.
The wave was passing away from us now. It shrank and shrank until it all but disappeared on the foamy shore. I kept my attention on the shore. I noticed that, quickly and relentlessly, the water was starting to needle its way back to the sea–and the cycle was starting all over again.
I was proud of myself.
I stared chaos down and I had survived it. I had survived chaos. And all I had to do was not stand rigidly against it, but dive deep within it.
The Only Way To Survive Chaos
Chaos is a fact of life. It happens and probably will continue to happen.
It is beyond our power to control it or become masters of it. We are mere humans and our power over the forces of nature is still very limited.
So, when chaos enters our life, we must not underestimate it. We must not think that we can stand up to it and expect to stay grounded while doing so. We should expect that we’ll be uprooted if we take this approach. Why? Because this is the primary goal of chaos: it seeks to uproot us.
Now that I’m an adult, I can say that I have dealt with my share of chaos in this lifetime. And what I learned from dealing with chaos is that it is similar to how a young swimmer conquers his first wave: you don’t try to outrun chaos, you simply dive into it.
Here’s how to truly survive the chaos in your life:
Stay aware and vigilant
Before chaos has even hit, we must be aware that chaos is a fact of life and that it will, sooner or later, drop into our lives. We would be arrogant to believe that we can escape chaos’ wrath. It’s better to be aware that chaos is a fact of life, and be aware that it may come after us when we least expect it. Ironically, we can survive the chaos simply by understanding that we are always vulnerable to the wrath of chaos. When we take this approach, we are less shocked and thrown off-balance when chaos finally visits us.
Watch out for signals, and be prepared if you recognize the early signs of chaos
You can prepare yourself for chaos by recognizing the early signs of chaos.
Remember: chaos, like a tremendous wave, starts small and looks innocent from far off. But, in only a matter of few seconds, it will be sure to double and then triple its size.
In life, a similar pattern can be observed: if you notice a “red flag,” don’t take that ominous sign lightly. Recognize it as something you should pay attention to. It may very well be a signal that it’s time to prepare for chaos’s arrival in your life.
Dive into the chaos and don’t fight against it
Finally, once chaos has arrived, we must not be paralyzed with confusion, indecision, or absolute terror. We must immediately dive into the chaos. Don’t try to outrun chaos—you’ll only waste your energy. (Because as much as you try to outrun chaos, chaos will pummel you anyway.)
Also: don’t try to “stand your ground” against the chaos. Chaos will only smile at you and pluck you out of the ground like a weed, and then laugh at your audacity afterward.
No, instead, you must bow down to the mystery and power of chaos, and then dive into it. The only way you survive chaos is to go deep inside of the chaos itself.
Embrace the profound
While deep within chaos, you must embrace only the profound. Where before you may have concerned yourself with the superficial things, like material wealth or temporary accolades, you must now go deep and find that which is everlasting and eternal. You must dive deep into the wisdom of the old wisdom teachers. Into the wisdom that has survived for centuries and still works today. Examine and consider what TRULY matters. Busy yourself with finding the truth of everything.
Recognize this is a temporary state
When you’re in chaos, things will seem dark, quiet, and still. It may take a long time for things to return back to “normal.” That is okay.
This is only temporary.
Acknowledge that your soul is the real captain of your life
While in the depths of the chaos, touch the base of your soul. Go to the core of all of us.
To the source. Where we are all interconnected.
There, at the core of chaos, in the deep depths, you will find your anchor.
This is the anchor of your soul. The soul is the only thing that will keep you sane and rooted in the midst of chaos. It is the only thing strong enough to withstand chaos and work with the other parts of you to rebuild again (after the chaos has done its damage).
This is because the soul is captain of you life. It always was, and always will be.
The soul is the perfect match for chaos, and it will always render chaos powerless in its presence.
Re-emerge from the depths (but stay vigilant)
When chaos has passed over you, return to the surface.
Congratulations: you have survived the chaos of your life.
But even though you have survived, remember to stay vigilant. Chaos can always be just around the next corner, ready to strike. Be prepared.
As soon as you not only understand this lesson but also know it and live it, chaos will cease to scare you.
How do you overcome the chaos in your own life? Please share your wisdom in the comments below!
>>> Blog Update/eBook Update: Readers: I’m taking the entire month of August off from the blog in order to focus on finishing Courage 2 Create’s first ever eBook. My goal is to have the eBook done by Christmas. In the meantime, I will be posting some of C2C’s classic posts. I will NOT be moderating comments until after my break is over, so if you don’t see your comments posted right away that is why. I will be returning on September 3rd with brand new posts. Until then, you all have a great rest of summer!