You have probably heard the name butterfly effect, but do you know that it originated from meteorology and chaos theory? It’s a metaphor to describe how difficult it is to predict a very complex system from an initial state. Thus the soft flaps of a butterfly’s wings in Beijing could snowball into the difference between suffering a hurricane or a warm day sipping mint julep in a porch swing in Florida. Any tiny disturbance can have disastrous and even opposite consequences. So it’s just as likely that when you wave goodbye to a loved one on a train station in Paris the movement of the air save the coast of Bangladesh for being drenched. It’s not that you break causality, but cause and effect are impossible to trace.
For those of you who prefer to have it explained in poetry, here is a link to a poem by David Hernandez.
A metaphor as strong as this has of course been widened into popular culture. As an example there is a movie called “Sliding Doors”, in which Gwyneth Paltrow plays Helen who, in two parallel stories starting from the pivot point of missing the tube or not. I will not tell you the details, but after a while the two different narratives plays into two very different realities..
Or think about yourself. Think about your genes. Many of us are the cause of seemingly random events that lead to our parents getting together, married and got children. You the result of a butterfly. Imagine that one of those random events would not have happened. Your father might have missed the bus and being ten minutes late he would have danced with someone else that warm evening in May when your parents met while your mother hooked up with someone else. We are often not aware of all the moments of alternate realities we go through each day. That every moment is actually a small crossroad.
There is plenty of literature, that show how history can change. What if Hitler would have become a well-known painter? or what if … ? There are a whole genre of literature spent on alternate possibilities.
You can also argue that everything matters, every little cause can have dire consequences.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
So today I would like you to think about a random event in your own life, maybe something that just happened (or didn’t). If you feel unable to do that you can find an event in history or you might even invent your own and see how big effects can come from just a small cause. Find your butterfly and change the world to something else.
Or if you feel unable, just write a poem about butterflies. (sigh!).
When you’re ready, put it on your blog, link up (referring back to this prompt), enjoy and read the other link-ups.
Have fun writing, go around and visit, indulge in the effect of those wings.