Controlled Chaos

About a year ago, I read Sara Kalick’s article on “Prototyping a New OS for 2019.”

One of her organizing images has stuck with me since: a journey from chaos to control and finally into controlled chaos.

Though it wasn’t always so tidy, a chaotic 2019 showed me that I’d been too hooked on a sense of control. Chaos — or the feeling of chaos — was the result of untested certainties falling away and a newfound mode of leaping into novelty after novelty.

No surprise, then, my 2020 desire for controlled chaos: I like the excitement of the new, but it’s frankly exhausting and inefficient to approach each day as if it’s totally new. (It is a new day, of course, but you don’t have to schedule or decide to make breakfast. Routines and structures have their uses. Some problems can stay solved.)

So, this year, I’ll be looking for simpler solutions to everyday problems (control) in order to leave some time and energy available for new challenges (chaos). Clearly distinguishing between things that have to work and those that might not — and budgeting intelligently for both — is critical.

Perfection won’t be possible in a year. (That’s the old desire for control again.) But, after a year of prototyping, it might be possible to implement an operating system that’s able to make sense of the routine and make space for the non-routine.