In the early 90’s I began to spend a lot of time hiking and being in the woods. For me that became a very big part of my life (and still is). Most certainly, there was something ‘different’ about being in nature.
As I sat one day in the woods I was struck by a simple thing – there’s not one straight line out here! Not only that, there’s no circles, there’s nothing thats perfectly spaced, or any ordered shape at all. Everywhere I looked I saw nothing but disorder, a mess, a chaos. Everything was random, oddball shapes going everywhere in every direction. Twigs, rocks, leaves, branches, grass, everything a chaos of haphazard placement. But, in this chaos there was this wonderful order, a wonderful harmony that, at times, seemed almost sublime.
Going back to the city I was struck by how everywhere I turned I saw straight lines, ordered shapes, perfect circles, things spaced exactly apart – the exact opposite of what I saw in nature. I began to see that this ‘ordered order’ of the city made me weary. I jokingly called it ‘ordered weariness’. I also began to see that it made me so weary I yearned more and more for the ordered chaos of nature.
It made me wonder what chaos was. Nature, really, is chaos. It’s a mess . . . in a way. Everything is in its place as a result of situation, as a result of various circumstances. Nothing is put there to make it look ‘ordered’. In the human environment, on the other hand, everything is placed or designed for a reason by someone. It is intentional. In nature, it is not. In that sense, nature is a ‘mess’ or a ‘chaos’ as nothing is planned, at least in the human sense.
It shows, really, varying levels of what order, or chaos, is. Nature is chaos, that’s true, but if I was, say, stranded on an island what would I do? I’d create an ordered element in that island – a hut, tools, trails through the trees, a plan of how to live, etc. There becomes a need to have an order amongst the chaotic mess of nature. Above I spoke of ‘order’ weariness’, which is being weary of the order of humanity. Here, I could describe something like a ‘nature weariness’. I have to create an ordered world to live in. Humanity, really, cannot live in the chaotic condition of nature. It needs some form of ‘humanly relevent’ order.
But, either way, being too much in nature or being too much in humanity creates a weariness in me, it seems. It’s as if I am caught in the middle, trying to balance myself on the edge of a razor blade. Going either way is bad.
This is true of me, but I also feel its true of humanity. We all suffer the weariness that corresponds with where we live. In a primitive-like society people tend to be ‘nature weary’. As a result, there is great meaning in ordered things, such as designwork, music, etc. as ‘humanly relevent’ order is lacking. But in high civilization we are ‘order weary’, tired of order. One of the things we do is to try to seek nature-like things. Another aspect of ‘ordered weariness’ is that it makes people want chaos, rebellion, going against the norm, etc. that is so common in modern society. Being in an ordered world some of us seek disorder, chaos.
It’s as if humanity is caught between the chaotic condition of nature and the unnatural results of its own creations. Nature is too inhuman but humanities creations alienate us. Human life, it seems, is trying to find a balance.