Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Chaos

Perhaps presciently, Ann-Christine chose the theme of CHAOS for this week’s Photo Challenge even before the pandemic was declared.  

What an interesting word – indeed, an interesting concept. I suspect that only human beings, with their big brains and their social biology, even experience chaos. I imagine chaos to be attributed to a situation that evokes a kind of fear, but on a more complex level than a fear for one’s basic survival. 

Social chaos, for example.

Probably most of us have experienced the confusing disorder of emotions and associations that might be described as social chaos. Where do I fit in? How do I connect? Do my feelings mesh with anyone else’s? These thoughts can be quite unsettling to me, but I don’t imagine spiders or starfish or blue jays dealing with that kind of survival anxiety.

Some humans believe that we have a superior gift for bringing order out of chaos. I look at homeowners blowing those untidy leaves off of their driveway in the fall, and I wonder if they imagine they are making the world more orderly while forgetting that our suburban consumption creates chaotic waste in much greater proportions.  


If chaos provokes a kind of fear or discomfort, then each of us probably has a different threshold of tolerance for it. And each of us can probably reset that threshold with a bit of work. How comfortable can you become with disorder, ambiguity, or uncertainty? I have to admit that I found parenting to be a great exercise in adaptation to chaos. There were plenty of times that I wasn’t in control of the situation, but I survived, and I certainly learned a lot…and I actually enjoyed it. 

There is plenty to learn in the present climate of global chaos in the human family. There are certainly many questions with unknown answers. There is confusion and ambiguity and anxiety about how we fit together, how we feel, and how we ought to act. And this is going on at a very high level of cognitive function. It is a situation that is created in our big brains. 

At the same time, in the world outside our big brains, Nature is functioning as usual. Organisms emerge, populations respond, life and death dance together in fascinating rhythm. I find this incredibly peaceful, a perfect antidote to chaos. Breathing in the assurance of Nature’s presence, I am strengthened for the work of being a human. It’s not easy work. We have a lot of responsibility. But the first responsibility is being aware of who we are as a species. May we be humble. May we be kind to every being on the Tree of Life. 

15 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Chaos

  1. Thought provoking as usual, and photos to go with it. Nature is always a source of inspiration and comfort. Not least in difficult times. And our responsibility is the greater thing to never forget. A beautiful entry, Priscilla.

  2. Beautifully put, Scilla. You have such an eye for the marvellous, quirky, restorative, challenging world we are all a part of. Your images and words led me on an emotional journey – that Recombobulation station made me hoot with laughter! Thank you. Meg

    • You are so welcome, Meg! Yes, when I saw that sign in the airport after having gotten through the security line, I had to dig out my camera and take a shot. I’d never heard that word! Discombobulation, yes, but recombobulation? Ridiculous!

      • Welllll, since you asked. No. I had never heard of it. BUT, Google is my friend. You have probably heard of ‘discombobulation’ and ‘discombobulate’, reportedly dating from the 19th century and likely mish-mash slang itself. Google ‘recombobulate’ and you can find definitions for it also. Slinging slang against the wall to see what sticks, I suspect. Eye-catching, at least!

    • I Googled and came across this: “Before you go scouring your lexicons, no, “recombobulation” is not in the dictionary. The word was invented by Barry Bateman, former airport director at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, and its definition is fairly intuitive, the opposite of discombobulation.” Guess where I snapped the photo of that sign? Yes, the MKE airport!

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