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The Butterfly Effect

The idea that everything is connected becomes most interesting when applied to ourselves. For this week’s writing challenge, tell us about your own Butterfly Effect.

I found my dog outside of the animal receiving center for Animal Care and Control in the Bronx.

It was my first time in the Bronx and I was going for an interview with a nearby doctor. At the time, I was continuing research on my undergraduate thesis in Medical Anthropology, which had brought me to a family practice in the area.

As I walked over to the doctor’s office, I noticed two dogs tied to the scaffolding, as if their owners had just stepped inside a store nearby. The two sat there patiently, waiting, like any other dog who loyally followed along on errands. Yet, when I walked by after my interview, the dogs were still there, and a crowd had gathered.

After a few phone calls to the ASPCA and city shelter, the dogs were brought into Manhattan to go through the process of adoption. The terrified, black and white puppy made quite an impression on me and later that week, I went to pick him up, adopting him myself.

Getting a dog prompted a lot of changes for me, from getting a new job, to moving, to just a general sense of happiness and companionship. While I can’t imagine life without my dog now, I often think about all the small pieces that needed to come together for me to find him that day. One small change, like a rescheduled interview, and he may never have crossed my path.

One Small Change

Do you think everything is connected? Many philosophers, writers, and spiritual guides have claimed that it is. One small change in our day-to-day routines and decisions could add up to alter the trajectory of our lives.

Is it likely to suddenly be discovered as a movie star by turning left instead of right on your usual route to work? Probably not. However, my limited understanding of Chaos Theory, and the commonly known Butterfly Effect, seems to indicate that these small, otherwise overlooked elements could later carry weight as events unfold.

In the Butterfly Effect, initial conditions that exist all play a part in happenings that progress around us. To describe its namesake example, the flap of a butterfly’s wings, one scientist proposed, could affect the course of a hurricane, in addition to all of the other existing conditions at that time: weather, location, winds, and the like. Nothing, it would seem, is too small to have a profound impact on the world.

The Challenge

The idea that everything is connected becomes most interesting when applied to ourselves. Those small, ‘What if?’s suddenly take on grandiose proportions and the possibilities are endless, for the better or for the worse.

For this week’s writing challenge, tell us about your own Butterfly Effect. What’s one small change that could have happened in your life, and how could that have affected everything that you know? To take things further, you can also:

Imagine all of the steps needed to get the seedlings for these two into that exact place.

Imagine all of the steps needed to get the seedlings for these two into that exact place.

  • Forget the trope of traveling backwards in time, travel into the future and explore one decision you’ve made today that might have a huge effect on your life in 10, 20, 30 years.
  • The concept of everything being connected — or everything being one — can be pretty emotionally invigorating for some. Do you think everything and everyone is connected? How do you relate to that idea?
  • Take things to a grander scale. Imagine one small change in the history of the planet, and venture into some science fiction about how things would be different. Similarly, conjure up a few characters and, in your tale, explore how one’s activity may relate to another, and so on.

We’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with, and the domino effect as you inspire others to participate!

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Comments

  1. I had to fictionalize this story: What would have been if someone like me didn’t walk down the aisle twenty years ago. It’s a really good challenge – what could have been, how a momentary decision can change everything forever.

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  2. Absolutely love The Butterfly Effect. What an incredible analogy. Thanks for being encouraging. Btw, being a new blogger, I’m not sure how to fix it, but there’s not a way to add comments to your posts from the reader. I actually had to click on your site to add this. It might not matter to you, but for some readers with limited time, they may not go to this length to leave a comment. 🙂 keep writing! This is inspiring!

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  3. I first off just want to say that I love reading happy endings, especially those that involve animals. I am an animal lover myself, and I’m the proud owner of not one, not two, but 3 dogs. I have two Weimaraners and a Maltese. All girls and all have very different personalities.
    As prompted by your blog, I think that the butterfly effect is incredibly complex and fascinating to think about. The chain reaction that even the tiniest flap of a butterfly’s wings can set into motion is extremely captivating. As you alluded to in your story about how you came to be the owner of your dog, and that everything that happens in life causes another, I would agree with on some level as I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. God has a plan set before all of us and knows exactly the path we will take. I believe that Romans 8:28 speaks truth which says “And we know that God works all things for the good of those who love him and who are called according to his purpose.” I do believe that God was a part of your journey to adopt your dog, just as his hand is constantly at work in my life to keep me safe and to prosper me.

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  4. Ever since I saw the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, I’ve given a lot of thought about the things that we may or might not do to change the course of history. Some people come into our live to stay, some for just a little while, but everyone has a butterfly effect on us in some way even though we may never realize it as James Stewart did in the movie. Wouldn’t it be a miracle if we all had an angel like “Clarance” to show us our own butterfly effect?

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