Sam Seaborn: What do you know about “Chaos Theory”?
Mallory O’Brien: I know it has something to do fractal geometry.
Sam Seaborn: That’s about what I know too. But it has to do with there being order and even great beauty in what looks like total chaos. That if we look closely enough at the randomness around us that patterns will start to emerge.
-20 Hours In America, The West Wing.
Note: To protect the innocent, all characters in this post (except me) will be given pseudonyms from the West Wing.
A cacophony of music emerges from every bar and cafe on E. 6th st in Austin like a thousand siblings battling for their parents undivided attention. Standing in the middle of the street that has been closed off to traffic, one is assaulted with punk, blues, rock, americana, hip-hop, rap and folk. The decision of where to go and who to listen to is near impossible. There are just too many choices. To people who love music the sound becomes a tangible thing. It walks with you and holds you up as you walk from venue to venue. For people who don’t like music, well, you are in the wrong town.
The surprise is the randomness of what I hear. The music I hear through the noise. I then wonder how random it is. Do I only hear certain music? Or, does the music find me? How is the connection made?
I came to this conclusion: randomness does not exist.
In an effort to subsidize the Thump Thump loft I rented (see my previous thump thump post), I rented one of the rooms out to a buddy: Josh Lyman. Josh works for a non-profit and at the last minute needed a room. Yes, he already had two hotel rooms booked, one for him and one for one his staff members, Donna Moss. But he had just hired a new guy, Sam Seaborne, and Josh wanted to bring him along. I had barely met Josh through my girlfriend and didn’t know him that well, but, through what seemed to be a random set of connections I had a roommate for the week and Josh was able to bring an extra person to the event.
I then got a chance to hang out to with Josh, Sam and eventually Donna too. I found them to be incredibly interesting people. Instantly likable. We went to dinner and the conversation was by turns erudite, humorous and compelling. Once more, these are people who live in my city (and not too far away from me, in fact) that had not been anywhere on my radar and now in a town thousands of miles from my home they are part of my life. At the time I thought “how random is that?”.
It didn’t end there. On their last night in town, Josh invited CJ Cregg to join us as well. CJ is Josh’s equivalent at an organization he is partnered with. CJ is out from the east coast for the fest but is actually staying a couple of extra days to hang out for the film part of it as well. CJ, like Donna and Josh is smart, funny and to my benefit, well versed in the language of film. The next night we grabbed a quick dinner then went to a screening. The screening itself, unfortunately, was not as compelling our dinner conversation. CJ said goodnight and made her way back to her hotel which may or may not have had a room for her.
Meeting these cast of characters has been an important, meaningful part of my experience here.
I found myself walking back to the Thump Thump loft thinking about who I have met on my trip so far and the idea that I have met them in a town filled an impossible amount of people. But was it really as random I originally thought?
Or is the opposite true? That nothing is random and that everything connected. That as we take a closer look, we must acknowledge the law of science that states “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. That we are subject to cause and effect. That every step we have taken in life has brought us to where we are now.
The cacophony bleeding into E. 6th street has not abated. It is louder than ever. As I walk into the warring chords of guitars, voices and drums. I think about the steps I am taking. I wonder what music those steps will allow to find me, and the people who will now enter into my life because of it.
Sometimes, to find order in your life you may have walk through something that looks a lot like chaos.