Conservation of Chaos: The A.D.D. Improvement Process

I thought I had it all together. [note 1] I put up a new blog that focuses on cooking and for one of the posts I wanted to have pictures (Sorry…the blog is no longer up.) In the past, cooking would be a three hour process, two hours of which were dedicated to cleanup. It usually went like this.

Out comes the flour, eggs and some bowls. Crack the eggs and start beating them. Then get a large pot for pasta. Fill it with water. Place it on the stove. Look for the pot cover. Open the cabinet. Grab cover and the colander that’s next to it. Place colander on counter top. Scan the counter top for the salt and pepper shakers. Go back to cabinet and pull out a large frying pan. Get the olive oil from the back hall pantry. Back to the kitchen. Turn on the stove, put oil in pan and let it heat up. Go back to pantry and grab two cans of chicken broth. Begin mumbling in anger about that empty spot on the middle shelf of the pantry. Start rearranging items on the shelf trying to figure out what was moved or missing. Realize that the empty spot was where the flour was which is now sitting on the kitchen counter. Back to the kitchen. Cover the chicken breast in flour and egg and starting frying them in the pan. Go to the living room to get the small portable radio so you can listen to the news while you are cooking. Back to the kitchen. Check the stove clock and determine when to heat up the water for the pasta. Remove items from the oven and set it to 350 degrees F. Move cooked chicken breast into dish. Grab ringing phone. And so on. The end result was a delicious meal but in its wake was a tsunami of cooking preparation detritus – dirty bowls, pots, pans and more – that would require at least two people to clean up. As the Ricochet Rabbit [note 2] of the cooking world, bouncing from one task to another – Ping! At the stove. Ping! At the counter. Ping! At the sink. Ping! At the stove. Ping! Grab the phone – I would leave a trail of uncleanliness behind with one thing piled on another as I attempted to make room for the next step in the cooking process without bothering to clean up what came before. But this time a miracle occurred. When I noticed small gaps of time, like when the chicken breast was frying in the pan, I started cleaning up after myself. In fact, by the time the meal was ready to be eaten, EVERYTHING was cleaned except for the dishes the food was served in and, of course, the dishes we ate on. Everything else was either washed or put away. Post-dinner cleanup was a breeze. And I managed to get several pictures of “the cooking process” for my blog post. After dinner I sat down at my computer to do some work. It was then that I realized the papers that I needed were buried under one of several piles of paper and all those piles started to look the same to me. I couldn’t find the specific papers I was looking for. There was a brief moment of panic and then the Aha! moment. [note 3] I realized I was a victim of the law. The Law of the Conservation of Chaos says that chaos can not be created or destroyed but will remain constant within an enclosed system. [note 4] Consequently the indestructibility of chaos means it will appear elsewhere within the system as itself or in an altered state. If it appears in an altered, i.e., transformed state, it can always be transformed back into its original form at any point in time. Thus the disappearance of the cooking chaos was not the destruction or elimination of that chaos but was actually the transformation of that chaos into work-related chaos – the cooking “mess” was transformed into the inability to distinguish between perfectly good and balanced piles of paper. [note 5] I have only myself to blame for not realizing that this would happen, that the improvement in one area would result in disimprovement in another. After all, Ignorantia legis neminem excusat, “a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content” (See: Ignorance and the Law.) Thus Mother Nature and Lady Justice assure that all is right with the world and, furthermore, I have learned a valuable lesson: my life will remain in chaos so that the system can remain in balance.

  1. Okay, I’m an…I can NEVER have it all together…but let’s stick with the narrative flow here…ok? And yeah, of course I’m A.D.D. I wrote one sentence and already I’ve digressed into this footnote. Sheesh! I don’t know how I survived all these years with this hyperdigression.
  2. I’m really dating myself with this cartoon reference.
  3. See: Scientists explain Aha! moments. I believe the concept of the Aha! moment originated with Martin Gardner.
  4. There is an interesting corollary to this law, namely, the Law of the Conservation of Potholes. As any astute driver will note, at any point in time there are roads that are under construction. There is never a point in time in which all roads have been repaired mainly because roads aren’t actually repaired. Instead, the potholes are moved from one geographical location to another since they can not be created or destroyed but can only be moved.
  5. See: Clutter Be Gone and the opening paragraph of It Does Improve…Really…It Does.
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  • bloggingawayadhd

    Ha! True, true.
    Though if you look at physics, you may note that entropy of the universe (basically, chaos) always increases over time. Not very reassuring, is it?

    I’m impressed you finished a meal with no mess! I always get mean looks from whoever is on dish duty the nights that I cook.

  • Jeff

    Bloggingawayadhd, keep in mind that it took me almost three years to get to this point. And if chaos increases over time then, by implication, A.D.D.ers are ahead of their time (and everyone else) since we are, by nature, pure chaos.

  • bloggingawayadhd

    haha :)

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  • Scott Hutson

    Just another article I can relate to…I am the cook around here. I am the “Ricochet Rabbit” that cleans as I go(Hyperfocus?).But…a large dining room table is in plain veiw, with the “things” on it, I put there to save for reading,working on my garden,taking out to the shop,Greatful Dead cd’s I purchased 3mo,s ago, etc..etc…”CHAOS” is an understatement to describe that table. I’ll get a ’roundtuit’ for that later.

  • mark heath

    Even though I’m often following a recipe, I think of cooking as a creative process, and creativity is the reverse of destruction. I’m making a mess, but I’m also making order. As you said, it’s all a closed system, and all the same in the end — there will be chaos.

    For the ultimate in ping action, watch me cook, following a recipe, when I haven’t bothered to line up all the ingredients first. Or read the recipe that closely. It’s a lot of fun for the viewer.

  • Scott Hutson

    Oh yes Mark, “The Ping”! That is something that I can relate to, not only in cooking, but every day of my life. So, “The A.D.D. Improvement Process” is something I have been practicing. But just like practicing playing the guitar(30+ yr.s), I have at times,impressed myself(mainly myself)with my skills…..But there are more times that I am disappointed with my skills.

    I find it difficult(for example) to walk outside and not start taking down the Christmas lights in freezing weather, when I only went out to get a tool from my shop to do something in my warm house. And then when I get to the shop,I look over at my lawnmower and check the tire pressure’s, then I….Well you get my point…I have forgotten what tool I went for in the first place! LOL.

    I am learning from mistakes, and the knowledge that I have A.D.D., to focus on the tool only, and walk fast.

  • mark heath

    Scott, you sound like me, if I were good with tools. I’m not handy with anything more than a pen. My distractions are music, reading, writing, drawing, movies, the birds outside my office window. I’m definitely missing the “hyper” in my ADD.

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