Narrative in a Chaotic World

By Melanie Anne Phillips

chaosEven in a chaotic world, the Main Character – be it someone one is talking about or about ourselves as Main Character in our own real world lives – will either be striving to begin something that has not yet started, or to end something that is already going on.

And if we decide that we will change instead because we feel we cannot remain steadfast, then we will grow either by adding a new attribute we have not previously employed in our outlook and in our lives, or we will remove from ourselves a trait we feel is a negative aspect of ourselves and perhaps the very cause of our problems.

True chaos has no predictable pattern.  Narrative is our attempt to find more stable transitory patterns in the ebb and flow – like the Red Spot on Jupiter but rather in terms of behavior – either ours or those around us.  Narrative puts a box around a part of our chaotic world and says that within this box, we can accurately predict the inner workings of things, assuming no force from outside the box disturbs or influences our captive slice of reality.

But one narrative only covers a  particular current or eddy in the chaos, and so we all create many narratives, perhaps scores or hundreds, to cover all the different situations we face in life: our relationship with our family, our relationships with our co-workers, our relationship with our boss, our position in a club, political action group, fans of a show, or just in a philosophical outlook or belief system about some aspect of our evolving life experience.

And yet, each narrative is just an artificially assigned boundary within the holism of human thoughts and feelings – each proposing a course of action, behavior or attitude, like raisins in  a pudding, and the real conflicts of our lives – the true dilemmas – are not about solving the problems within each of our many narratives, but in finding ways to handle the discrepancies among the solutions derived for each narrative independently.

When the proscribed behavioral plan suggest by each of our myriad of individual narratives come into conflict, we must rise above a series of independent solutions to create a greater narrative in which each smaller narrative becomes an element.  And then, we must arranges the interactions and contextual specifications of each of the smaller narratives, favoring one at times and another at other times or in other situations in order to co-ordicnate a larger truth to chart the overall course of our lives.

This becomes our life plan, and the greatest disservice we can do to ourselves is to believe that because it is relatively stable that it is truly constant, or worse, that is it a given.  For there is always a larger context or a force outside our biggest consideration that can bring down or invalidate everything.  We must be firm but flexible, not only in the narratives we cast for ourselves but especially in those we cast for others.

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