Writers are agents against chaos. Those of you who read this blog frequently know that chaos has been one of my themes lately. Moving, which is a process that takes months and months of time, is pure chaos. Whenever I settle down to write, yet another moving-related task comes to me—this box needs to be unpacked, that gap in the fence must be mended, where did I put the toolbox? Mundane things. Writers like to think the world conforms, somehow, to their inner lives. In reality, things are far more complex than that and don’t seem to be getting any easier. Starting to learn about house ownership is something best left for the young, I suspect. Every question (where should we put the television?) leads to a daisy-chain of other issues (but first we need to move that hutch, but it’s too heavy for either of us to lift, etc.).
In ancient times water symbolized chaos. Before we left on vacation, the main issue was to get all boxes off the floor in the garage. We haven’t had time to move them safely inside yet, what with planning for vacation and all, so plastic became the order of the day. We do need, however, to get things inside eventually. A slow process for two middle-aged people with full-time jobs, even without jet lag. Writing feels like a luxury item, for what is most required is time—time to move things to their proper places. Time to figure out what those proper places are. Time to go to work again.
Had we thought this through, we might’ve used vacation this year to unpack. We bought our plane tickets, however, before we bought the house. This latter transaction is one of chaos embodied. Who knew, for example, that the grass had to be cut so often? That all roofs leak? That chaos is constant, and not intermittent? In biblical times, one of the signs of God’s greatness was the ability of the Almighty to hold chaos in constant check. The waters were always lurking, looking for any opening—except when you need rain and it just won’t come. Sitting here writing feels like the giddy irresponsibility of childhood where there’s so much to get done and so little time in which to do it. And neighbors don’t appreciate the lawn being mowed before the sun is properly out of bed. The renter pays a price for living with, for at least some stretches of time, chaos-free maintenance. The home-owner quickly learns that any time left over for writing feels like being irresponsible, and a little bit divine.