I met up with Chaos the other day. How could I ever think that the goat kids in the kid pen could get at the electrical wire that is four feet off the ground and behind a big piece of flake board? But they did, and tugged it down, and they chewed on it, and stomped on it and played with it, but somehow failed to electrocute themselves. I could feel in the heels of my shoes the electricity seep out from the mangled insulation. They left it to me, the guy who shows up every day, the worker in barns, to mend the wires and hang them higher on the wall, and nail another piece of flake board over the wires and move the outlet so that the kids can't put themselves in jeopardy again. You wouldn't imagine they could put themselves in jeopardy again. It would seem impossible, but Chaos makes everything possible. Chaos employs time as consigliere, a dutiful and clever fellow, who happens to be around generally.
Chaos has many arms and legs, which come at you in a tangle; it's hard to tell where they begin and end. He reminds me of the famous octopus in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. He's clumsy, he has a talent for creating mysterious noises. He is a wrecker of plans, a wrecker of spells, an instigator. His ability to create illnesses, bruises, scratches, seems infinite. You make the most careful plans against him, and there he is again! No man knows him better than the worker in barns. I expect a conversation with him now and again, and in my opinion all too often. And I hope to receive a round instruction through experience in fighting him off.
It may take a generation or more to instruct a mind to recognize instantly and to remedy a close brush with Chaos. These people listen to venerable experience; they become wise; they make the grade; they get ahead. As for me, Chaos has me continually buffaloed. I expect Chaos to stop at the barn door, step inward no farther. I plan against him entering and making a mess of things. There are various ways: regular maintenance, caution, care, love. Paying attention! One should pay attention; know where your socks are; know where your kids are. I try but I have been in my life a pawn before Chaos. He fooled with me! He has made me nervous. The wisdom against Chaos never showed up. It must not have. Look what happened! I could tell you stories! Oh my.
But he doesn't stop anywhere. When a branch snaps in a sharp wind and the goats stampede out of the woods in a herd, what is behind them is nothing and everything, Chaos. Why should they put up a brave front? Even Pharaoh knew them well, supped on their healthful and delicious milk, sought experienced keepers to maintain his herd. All of these thousands of years have goats flourished not via confrontation but flight. But still even I may instruct Chaos to tone it down. I look around me at this madness of the evening news. Whoa, whoa, whoa I say, which gets me nowhere. There is a larger more emphatic argument. "No man is an island..." We must hang together, as do my herd of goats, or the live electrical cords of this world will snap at us. Sometimes that gets a raised eyebrow.
|Chaos will make them squeeze into anything.|
|They're a lively bunch. See the glimmer of Chaos in the shadows?|
Goats are like children in their inability to take care of themselves. But they are demanding, too. They demand order. They expect the guy who shows up every day, the worker in barns, to provide order, since they are unable to provide it for themselves. But I have found to be true that the greater number of men exist in such disorder that the possibility of order emanating from them toward any living thing is zero. In fact, evidence of orderly work is too often the exception. Human nature, which has lost touch with reason as a bulwark and bastion against disorder, is merely reflecting itself in acerbity. Outrageous statements abound, though they are always false. They beckon to Chaos, who comes in a many armed cocoon of discord. By good fortune there is simple warm affection, which contains within itself a pretend order, a proof of God's existence and love for his creation. Nobody can hate everybody, so everybody has at least some of this human affection in them. Affection and enthusiasm have saved many a barn from ruin, but they do NOT provide order. They permit Chaos entrance through lack of appreciation of the details. In true order Chaos is frustrated to find a foothold anywhere.
Now, it never goes perfectly smoothly in the barn, as it never goes perfectly smoothly in life. The kitchen in the farmhouse, which has about it many close ties to the barn, may be unaccustomed to the accidents of that bandit Chaos. The strong arm of the housewife will tell the tale. But as I get closer to animals, I get closer to my brothers on this earth—don't ask me why—, so I get closer to the possibility of a wreck. What should I seek to forestall next? I may insist on order everyday, but the barn animals will insist on disorder. Animals like to play. The healthier they are, the more they will butt heads. Men also like to play and butt heads. At milking time the goats will crowd the gate, especially in spring when they are flush with milk. Any loose and pointed thing will eventually find a hide to puncture; any hole in the fence big enough to stick a head through will be small enough to catch it. And there will be a long night and possibly a dead animal by morning. In my comrades on this big barn of an Earth I expect concussions. But also I expect them to tone it down and do the work. Life ain't easy in a barn!
What is it I hear in the back pasture? A high keening? I am sure Chaos has come around today. I must go look. Did you hear it? Why don't you come too?