Thursday, August 28, 2014


Painted Lady by Tina Phillips
The Butterfly Effect, or the Chaos Theory, is the thought that a small incident will cause cascading events that result in exponential actions or events. The example, of course, is the flutter of butterfly wings will set off triggers that result in a hurricane down the road. As a writer, I like it. It makes for a great plot line. It can be used in a straight line or in multiple lines in parallel universe type plots. It can be used for time travel forward or back, flashbacks, dreams, etc. In real life, I'm not a fan.

I like predictability and routine and schedules. I have a HUGE white board calendar that hangs in my hallway. I have a kitchen calendar that hangs on the wall. I have a Franklin Planner that I carry everywhere and write everything in it. I have even started using the reminder and calendar functions on my phone. I plan everything and schedule everything literally months in advance. Surprises and spontaneity, I don't like. At all. Period. I don't understand them.

I get that things happen and come up (although I'm not sure why when there are planning devices everywhere) but I particularly dislike the concept of the Butterfly Effect. Just why should a butterfly fluttering in the Congo result in a hurricane taking the roof off my house? Rude! Just where is this butterfly now? I want to press it in my planner. What that is, is something, or someone, making their problem my problem and I don't believe they have the right to do that. And if they try, I don't think I actually need to participate - I can say no. I should say no. Especially when it comes to things that could have been just as easily scheduled with a little forethought and preparation by the first party.

Then again, from strictly an outside perspective there a certain Rube Goldberg-type beauty of the Butterfly Effect. Like intricate cascading dominoes or an M.C. Escher sketch. Who hasn't marveled at one of Escher's sketches and tried to find the logic in the absurdity? Who hasn't stood dominoes on end and then tapped the first one making them fall? Isn't it disappointing when they don't all fall (or is it)?

Maybe the key is to remain objective, to try to see the bigger picture. What is our Muse's plan, or God's plan, or the structure in the chaos? Perhaps on some level we are all butterflies to someone or something else that is bigger down the road. Or, perhaps we are in the midst of a hurricane waiting for the storm to pass. It makes for good musings. I'll have to schedule time to think about it.

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