Leaving room for chaos.
A couple nights ago I had the opportunity to catch up with a dear friend of mine over pizza and wine. He had recently fallen in love and was recounting all the events that led to their meeting. The summation was a handful of moments that initially may have seemed like misfortunes: a breakup, getting stood up by a date, a friend breaking her leg, a scheduling mishap that led to an open night… the list goes on and leads to him meeting his boyfriend. He was beaming. I couldn't be happier.
The conversation turned to the topic of the crooked path on which life leads us. Intersections, relationships, meetings and all the unplanned moments of life that lead us exactly where we wanted to be all along. Blindsided by obliquity. "Sliding doors" and all.
Neither of us can help but conclude that the journey simply must be designed in some way, shape or form. It's too perfectly random to be otherwise so. Call it karma, God, the universe, luck or something else. I'm not here to define the source, only to comment on its existence.
So how does this observation of past events influence the way I currently operate and move forward? It leads me to the thought that the attempt to design the chaos out of life is detrimental to our sense of wonder.
We spend so much time seeking to design perfect experiences. This is the foundation of design as a practice, and could potentially be applied to the industry but much more so I'm interested in how it effects our daily lives. From what I've seen, the perfect experience cannot be found without being open to the chaos of life. It's only been in these moments that I've discovered true moments of delight.
As the old saying goes, "Man plans and God laughs." Again, define whose laughing for yourself but the point is, as we all know, our plans seldom go on without a hitch. The survival skill is found in adapting quickly and finding the angles in a constantly changing landscape.
What happened to rolling with it? Adapting? Evolving? Perhaps this is much more a conversation about evolving than we initially thought. After all, evolution is about adapting and surviving in an ever-changing environment. The strong survive, but as we see throughout science, strong means adaptable more times than not. It's about facing constant, unknown challenges and coming out stronger on the other side. I would argue that we're hamstringing our own growth by insulating our experiences through the illusion of designed control.
Beyond the evolutionary conversation, do we really want to create an insulated society where everything is perfectly planned and nothing catches us by surprise? I can't speak for everyone but that's a bit too "1984" for me.
What I am saying is that remaining open to the randomness and chaotic nature of the life we live is essential in our design practice. Perhaps if we allow it to season our plans, we just might find more full and rich experiences than we could have thought up on our own.