CARA MURRAY: A REFLECTION ON CHAOS IN COVID TIMES
Posted by Cara Murray - November 2021
During my time at Circus, I had the opportunity to work on a project alongside my internship. In the first month my idea changed from wanting to make a film surrounding themes of childhood to investigating the notion of chaos and how it manifests within ourselves and the world around us. I was curious about the elements that make up chaos – how it appears and disappears, what causes it, if it is something that can be avoided, and if it is something that should be avoided.
I was interested in the fear within our culture surrounding chaos. Even the word brings up negative connotations of anxiety, stress and disorder. I started to question the avoidance of these feelings and began exploring other possibilities of what chaos could mean and what it could bring. Chaos is the unknown, the uncontrollable, the unpredictable. In Greek mythology, it is the formless void state prior to the creation of the universe. It’s obvious why our human egos would want to avoid it. We have evolved to look for structure and order, to find stories and patterns that protect us and guide us to safety. And these have their place. But what could we learn if, for a moment, we felt safe enough to sit with these states of not-knowing? What is it like being a human with an ego in a world that is so complex we will always experience it as chaotic?
I see chaos as the primal dance of the universe. It is the very force that makes life possible. Without the movement of constant change, nothing would grow and the world would wither in stagnation.
There are two faces of chaos: destruction and creation. Chaos ultimately brings the loss of order, and with any loss comes grief. When change arrives, we must let go of what is dying as it begins to decay so we ourselves do not rot. But how do you navigate the world when the architecture of your reality has crumbled? When the stories that hold you start to unravel? Unfortunately, I don’t have a clear answer – maybe no one ever will. I don’t think there can be a blueprint, formula or way out for the problem of pain. And the longing for one tells us a lot about our innate human dread of chaos. The destruction process forces us to let go of control and suspend our egos. If we let it, it can take us right to the present moment where the primary experience of being supersedes the compulsion to classify our encounters and identities according to their assumed worthiness. Of course, we need our identities to feel secure when journeying out into the world but how can we feel that security if who we are is built upon an insecure foundation? In this space the threads that have become unraveled can begin to spin again to form tapestries that tell new stories about ourselves, others and the world around us.
Images: Cara Murray - work in progress and research reading material
This brings us to the second face: creation. In this process it becomes clear that new possibilities could never arrive without the death of old ones. Grief of this death shows us the world through a different lens that was unknown to existence before chaos came. The freshness of this perspective can be compared to the childlike innocence that we all once possessed, that perhaps still lies deep within us somewhere. Curiosity for the world and the imagination of what it could be may still be accessible to us. New beginnings arise in every passing moment. Chaos brings the opportunity of creation and creation makes evolution possible.
I found that as I explored the notion of chaos, I began to see a connection with my own inner nature. It became clear to me the reason I have been so interested in this idea is due to my own struggles with anxiety and the chaotic experience we have all faced over the past two years of being thrown into a pandemic world. The more I became familiar with chaos and conceived my own creative story of it, the easier it was to allow change to happen. At times when I’m struggling to let go of something, be it a narrative, experience or person, I tell myself that chaos will always come and go. It reminds me to stay open and fluid to the turnings of life, which relieves so much of the anxiety that clinging on induces. The irony is the more you try to control life, the more uncontrollable life feels. Chaos has taught me acceptance of what is and shown me the flow of life. And the more I tune in to its intensity, the more I see there is no separation between us. Underneath our perceived identities, chaos is the nature of what we are. We are not just fixed things shaped by the force of our environment; we are becomings collaborating with the world in its creation.