Drama. Chaos. Upheaval.
We struggle with these issues in our life every day. We see our friends bickering, our co-workers cheating, our superiors ignoring their duties. We see laws broken and justice ignored.
No matter what we do, we always seem to see some disruption around us. Sometimes it nudges its way into our personal life, and it feels absolutely awful. Even when we’re not directly involved, seeing the people we love hurting or feeling lost hurts us too. We ask ourselves the perennial question: how did things get so bad? Why can’t things be like they were before?
Chaos has always been a part of the human condition, and it most likely always will. There is a class of literature in Ancient Egypt often simply called “Lamentations”. I am not talking about the ritual text where Aset and Nebthet seek and mourn Wesir. I am talking about texts where JoeHotep sits down and writes the equivalent of a blog post about how miserable everything is getting. Everything is falling apart and it sucks.
And yet – Egypt endured for thousands more years after the writing of these texts. Consider The Dialogue of a Man and His Soul. It was written around the Twelfth Dynasty — and yet the world did not end. Other similar dialogues were also written long before the end of Ancient Egypt as we conceive of it today.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the present and feel like there is no solution to our suffering. It’s easy to dismiss solutions and think nothing will ever change. In times of grief and chaos I turn to these lamentations and take comfort in knowing that if these ancestors could feel so lost and yet have their words endure through the millennia, I can make it to next Tuesday without being lost in the chaos.