Chaos theory

“People would say to me in the grocery store, like, ‘You must feel cursed,’ and I would just be like a) ‘That’s not helpful,’ and b) ‘So are you, if you think about the fact that you’re a human being and you never know when chaos will find you.’ So it made me just realize how deeply phobic we are of this idea that chaos is really a reality in this world. It is the thing that can touch and will touch us sometime in our life, and that doesn’t mean that we’re bad people or we deserve bad luck or that we’re even unlucky. It just means that that’s what happened.” — Emily Rapp, author of ‘The Still Point of the Turning World‘: A Meditation On Mothering A Dying Child.

If you are a runner (or a human, really), you have followed the news in Boston for the past two weeks, and you have struggled to make sense of what happened there.

In the hours and days after the bombing, I kept thinking: Chaos, man. Total, utter chaos. If there is something about me that has changed since losing three parents/parents-in-law over the past couple years, and since sustaining more than one weird, random injuries, it is the understanding that we are not even guaranteed the rest of today. It is the understanding that anyone, no matter what that person has already endured, can, at any moment in time, face the kind of unbelievable heartache and chaos that changes everything in an instant.

We all know this logically, and we all grow to understand this on a personal level at some point in our lives. Still, it’s never easy to accept when we see it manifested in the world, especially when the chaos is as brutal and random and wide-reaching as it was in Boston.

The only thing I know is that we can look fear and doubt in the face and run anyway.  We can’t overcome or go around the chaos, but we can run through it to get to the other side.

Recently, my broken elbow—an absurdly minor trauma, by comparison—has served as a visual and visceral reminder of the fact that chaos can strike at any moment, even when you’re doing nothing more than walking from your front door to your car. So it was only fitting that I started to move through, and past, the chaos by returning to the activity that makes me feel most alive: skiing, after my doctor declared me totally healed at my last appointment April 12. That’s why, at the last minute, I crashed Steve’s trip to see his brother and our sister-in-law in Colorado, moving my life and my deadlines to Colorado for a few days for the chance to make just a few more turns this season.


Did I mention that I purchased new ski boots for the trip? It makes perfect sense. I promise.

The first run felt awkward. But slowly, I eased into feeling normal again. By the end of the day, I was racing downhill with glee to catch one last chair up.


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3 responses to “Chaos theory

  1. Ann

    We have been given a very real reminder of just how short life is recently. Enjoy the moment. Embrace the joy in life. Because as they say in the South, “Ya can’t never tell.”

  2. “We can’t overcome or go around the chaos, but we can run through it to get to the other side.”

    This was how I got through my divorce, through moving and all the crazy life changes that have gone on recently. The only way out is through.

    Glad to hear you got a day of skiing, exhale. I think of you often and hope you are well!

  3. Great observations, as always, Amy. Love the way you always keep your chin up and your indomitable spirit. And please, come run trails with me soon!

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