The beauty in the chaos

It’s 4:45 a.m., and for some reason unbeknownst to me, I am wide awake.

For many of us, this isn’t exactly worth a second thought. This is just a mundane detail of daily life. For me, this is an issue as my alarm isn’t set to sing me from my slumber until 7 a.m. That would be another two hours and 15 minutes hence.

Being that I have so much time before I actually need to get myself and my children up and around, I do what any rational human would do. I close my eyes, roll over and attempt a quick return to dreamland.

After finally finding a reasonably comfortable position, I settle into the silence of the morning, certain of the extra sleep that’s coming my way. Then out of the darkness, I hear a sound. I strain my ears and listen more carefully, hoping that it is just my sleep-deprived mind playing tricks on me.

As I listen I hear it again, a single soft sound at first, but my heart tells me the terror has only just begun. Soon, that one solitary, obnoxious sound will rise into a chorus of jovial avian irritants celebrating the awakening of a new day.

Quickly, I wrap a blanket around my head, hoping to form an impenetrable barrier between my ears and the growing wall of sound. I am able to reduce the volume but not eliminate it completely. Undeterred, I press on, hoping to salvage whatever precious moments of rest remain.

In an attempt to ignore the subtle sounds that still reach my ears, I meditate on a song I’ve been writing. As the lyrics and melody flow through my mind, a word catches my attention, putting an immediate halt on my lullaby. The word reminds me of a loose end I failed to tie up last week, so I begin processing how and when I will take care of this now pressing issue.

Content with my solution, I turn my attention back to the song, but before I get there, another thought pops into my mind, and another, and yet another. A flood of responsibilities and ideas break free in my mind, creating an unnavigable whirlpool of thought.

Before I even have a chance to attempt bringing my mind back into some sense of order, my wife’s alarm goes off, alerting me to the fact that my two hours and 15 minutes is now closer to 30 minutes.

There in the dawning of morning’s light, surrounded by the sounds of a thousand senseless birds and assaulted by the presence of 10,000 pressing responsibilities, a thought enters my head: “I wish these hours would just pass so I can get on with my life.” It isn’t a unique thought for me. It tends to come whenever I’m inconvenienced, uncomfortable or annoyed.

Recently, I’ve found myself disquieted by this thought. Life is short enough without wishing away the minutes. Allow me to share two thoughts that came to mind in the chaos of this morning.

Redeem the time

Even in the midst of unexpected and perhaps uncomfortable moments, there is still value to be found. Too often when the going gets tough, we begin wishing that time would get going. We just want these difficult or undesirable moments to move along so we can get to the good stuff. In truth, it’s not time that needs to get going, but us. Time is only as valuable as we make it. Too often, we waste it wishing it would pass only to find ourselves wondering where the time went later in life. Don’t wish your life away. As I like to say, “Make the moments matter.”

Find beauty in chaos

Life truly is a gift, and the world in which we live it is filled with wonders. Our ability to see and experience the blessings of life is, to some degree, connected to our attitude at any given moment. Take the chaos of the birds in the mornings. During the normal course of the day, I strain my ears, hoping to hear the singing of the birds, and I stare out the window, hoping to see them with my eyes. Seeing them fly from branch to branch reminds me that the creator that cares for and clothes them cares for me, as well. The attitude I assume has a deep impact on my experience. Every moment, chaotic though they may be, has beauty to behold.