Lately we’ve been trying out a new theme on Improvised Life, Opened at Random. We open a book and post whatever nugget jumps out, invariably something just right for the moment we are in.  We find that Improvised Life itself often provides that kind of synchronicity for us. We wade into the archive and find something that speaks to just where we are (an experience that many readers have reported).

from When Things Fall Apart; photo, Sally Schneider

Today we came across a photo we took of a page in Pema Chodron’s enduringly illuminating When Things Fall Apart, which we opened to at random while on retreat several years ago.

Through practice, we realize that we don’t have to obscure the joy and openness that is present in every moment of our existence…Life feels spacious, like the sky and the sea. There’s room to relax and breathe and swim, to swim so far out that we no longer have the reference point of the shore.


We rediscovered its wise message: that when we find ourselves in the midst of big questions with no answers— at sea—in what feels like chaos, that we don’t have to obscure the joy and openness that is present… 

…even as we move toward difficulties, rather than away from them…


If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

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3 replies on “Pema Chodron’s First Step in Dealing with Chaos

  1. Hi, Sally,
    I really love the “Opened at Random” new feature of IL.
    It leads me to new discoveries all the time, and back to my own beloved books.
    I don’t know how I would start my day without your inspiration.
    Fond regards,
    Julie Houston

  2. I have tried several times to become a member and pay for reading Improvised Life but
    have never been successful. I have not received a password from you which I need to complete
    the credit card payment.
    I would be more than happy to pay my fair share! Just can’t seem to make it work.

  3. Hi, I’m not clear what your issue is. I will contact you directly so we can figure it out.

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