Chaos Within Routine

December 5, 2009 · 0 comments

…or routine within chaos?  Rather ouroborean, isn’t it, dear reader?

Once upon a time, I was a bartender.  I lived in chaos:  my surroundings were ever-changing.  New people, different drinks, new and old and different conversations.  People fought.  People fell in love.  Hell – I fought, I fell in love.

But despite the ever-changing nature of the work, there was routine too:  cut the fruit, stock the shelves, put out the ashtrays – things had to be done before the night began.  And after the chaos of the night, there was routine as well:  empty things out, wipe everything down, take out the trash.  Sweep.  Mop.

And there was routine within the chaos as well:  pouring drinks involved the same movements, which led to a practiced economy of motion.  There was always something to be done:  glasses to be washed, ashtrays to be emptied, things to be wiped down with a wet rag.

I was also a student, back then.  In law school.  The chaos and routine of my work at the bar only occupied half my 24-hour cycle.  I had regular classes and regular and irregular study hours.  Sometimes I had a social life.  Sometimes that was in the bar, sometimes not.  Law school added some regularity and routine, but chaos was there too.  Well, maybe unpredictability, if not actual chaos.

I used to get lost in that chaos.  It was like home to me.  I rarely acted; I simply reacted.  Looking back, it seems that things were so much simpler then:  easier.  But that’s always the way with looking backward, isn’t it, dear reader?  It was always “easier back then”.

I think, though, that there was a balance between the chaotic and the routine.  There was enough chaos in the bar to even out the routine of the life of one in law school; and vice versa.

Today:  I don’t know.  I think there may be more routine to my life than anything else.  And I don’t know that there’s any chaos at all.  Unpredictability, certainly.  Chaos, not really.

Mind you, dear reader, I’m not complaining.  But it seems right now that the periods of unpredictability have become predictable:  they’re the short bits of time when I’m not at work and not doing regular chores around the apartment – and not doing one of the other myriad “regular” things in my life.  This is not to say that the hours spent at work are entirely predictable:  they’re not.  Ouroborean, no?  There’s a certain amount of reaction that comes with my job, and I most definitely prefer that to straight-up routine.

I don’t think I miss the chaos right now.  I’m ok with a balance of routine and mere unpredictability.  Right now, at least.

Either way, my point is that at any given moment it’s tough to tell which is enveloping which:  the chaos or the routine.  It’s kind of fractal-ish, too, now that I think about it.

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