Outside the Law

January 19, 2011

Days 3-13: Chaos Theory

Filed under: Cancer,Uncategorized — Jeniene @ 4:57 am
Tags: , , , ,

Okay, clearly I lied.  Not purposefully, of course.  My vow to write everyday was a legitimate one.  I absolutely want to post everyday.  But the idea of writing vs. actually writing are two very different things  Nevertheless, I am truly going to make a concerted effort.  Well, more concerted than over the past 10 days.

Sixteen days ago, a small marble-like mass and an initially small twinge of arm pain launched me into what I have come to think of as a bifurcation event (and presumably onto the first steps of a journey that will be an unsettling and, yet, transformational).  If you’re keeping up with this blog at all, you know that at the time all this took place, I had recently made a significant change in my life as a lawyer, a wife and a busy mother of one young child.  I don’t have time for transformational growth!  However, clearly, I have no choice: I have been swept up by a process as natural as that which turns a caterpillar into a butterfly.  Growth is what I am experiencing, whether I want to or not.  I have come to understand that real growth is not the smooth, gradual, always-under-control experience we all wish for, but actually occurs—by bifurcation.

A bifurcation is, literally, a “fork in the road” and was initially coined to describe the pitchfork-like shape of a graph that signaled its existence in lab experiments. When a bifurcation occurs, we have reached a point in our journey through life at which a decision must be made: Do we go right or do we turn left?

More often than not, I suspect, we don’t even see the need for a decision.  We are often so caught up in the events of the bifurcation, often traumatic ones, that, as we approach the fork in the road, we close our eyes to the fact that the path we are traveling is ending.  We are forced to make a choice about which new path to take, but we march right on through, out into the tall grass and weeds, oblivious to the fact that our life must now follow a new course.

With this latest change in my otherwise orderly life, I have been noting the number of bifurcations in my life.  Many of them good: getting married; having my son; changing careers.  And some not so great: my mom’s death; my brother’s death; a couple of miscarriages.  On whole, the good (as is often the case) balances out with the bad.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found these major life shifts to be less … vertiginous.  And I think I’ve even figured out how to not close my eyes when the path is coming to an end.  Let’s just hope I can continue to stay out of the weeds.

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