There is a natural tendency, arguably a compulsion, for people to seek and recognize order when we are confronted with chaos. We want to to make sense of information and sort it into a meaningful pattern. It is calming. Writers take it another step, needing to explain the order that they have found - to show off how simply and succinctly we can tame the madness into a (possibly humorous) story.
And so here I am in Cairo, one year later, punch drunk from the fight and still searching for that one knock out analogy that will satisfy my own desire for order as well as my writer's need to share it with you. Life in Egypt is frustrating and I want to pound some sense into it. But the chaos here is strong and the best that I have been able to do is to take small jabs at it while I duck and dance away from the jarring blows of insanity that this mixed up town provides.
Modern Egypt is a different story. It lacks structure and is very noisy. Sometimes it seems like twenty million people are all talking at the same time. These conversations are loud. It is hard to tell when people are angry because people are always shouting. And yet, for all of the yelling, people are remarkably indirect in what they are saying and very little ever seems to get accomplished. Egyptians tend to take it all in stride, having long since abandoned ma'at. They are generally quite good natured, laughing as loudly as they yell.
Thinking of finding order as a fight might be a little too intense and counter productive, like pounding a square peg into a round hole. I can blunt the edges and bully my own simplifications into words, but it will not solve the problem of finding the hidden order - the ma'at that already exists.
And so I increasingly find myself standing by the Nile and staring at the water. Perhaps I have been trying too hard to find ma'at and not simply allowing it to be revealed. Do you remember those posters that were so popular a few years back? The ones where a pattern or image was hidden in the pixels. In order to see it, you had to stand a while, slack jawed, while your eyes unhinged from the apparent randomness. After some time you were able to look beyond the picture to some place in the distance where you hoped to see the simple, perfect image of a flower or a sailboat.