You ever hear of the butterfly theory?
Also known as the chaos theory, it’s the idea that a flap of a butterfly’s wings halfway across the world could alter things that occur in a seemingly unrelated event (like your own life).
And just about every medium that deals with science fiction has explored this theory in some way, shape, or form. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t bear repeating.
Because there’s another theory that goes right along with the butterfly theory: that every choice we make in our lives, even if it’s what to eat for dessert on a Tuesday night, changes the outcome of our entire existence. On a much larger scale, it encompasses every “what if” in life. What if he was “the one”? What if I took that job? What if I ordered tira misu?
The difference here is that I would like to believe in the butterfly theory. I like the idea that small, unrelated events move us across the world like chess pieces. What I don’t like is thinking about a life parallel to the one I’m living that allows me to live out every decision I didn’t make. It’s agony.
Which is why I believe that while our decisions do have great influence on our lives, we do have checkpoints. In short, that we are meant to be in some places, and that we will get there however we get there. That you cannot make a wrong turn. You’ll find your way, even if it’s not the most direct route.
Why do I believe this? Because it would be suicide not to. It would be so painful to believe that I missed all my chances in life to do what I wanted most.
I would really like to know how you could even go on living if you sincerely believed that you could actually make a wrong choice in your life that would impact it forever. (Spoiler alert: you can’t. Mistakes are only more experiences.)
In the end, you have to believe in second chances sometimes, if only to give yourself one.
You know how people say it’s not the situation, it’s the way that you react to it that matters? Well, put simply, I’ve been like a human cat for most of my life. I run away from loud noises or bite people when forced into social interactions. “Conflict resolution” isn’t really in my vocabulary, and if it is, it’s me talking about how I’m not good at it.
But lately, I’ve been reacting to situations that are more tense than a bomb squad like the Dalai Lama.
The other day I had a lot on my mind and I was swelled up with stress like an angry bullfrog. And instead of blaming the situation itself like I normally do, instead of blaming anyone else (including but not limited to, the Starbucks barista or the guy who is walking way too slow in front of me) I said to myself, I need to do something about all the stress I’ve been experiencing because I can’t get this frustrated when something happens every day.
What?! I mean, really, where do I cash in my tickets for my adult points? I looked at my life and took responsibility for my own actions. I realized that my reactions needed to change, not the situation. (A trick that only took a quarter of a century to learn!) It felt uncomfortable and good to do this, all at the same time, like wearing your favorite sweater that’s way warm but so itchy.
And this made me really think about how we communicate with our world. As much as I wouldn’t prefer to be numb, we really do need a thicker skin to get through life. Because when we let in the chaos from the outside world, we can’t distinguish between the two. And if we form a core of calm, we can float above it all, like when you hold your breath in a swimming pool and let your body rise to the top.
In the end, chaos is only chaos when you give yourself over to it, when you don’t pay attention to how you’re reacting to a situation. And being calm is only calm when it starts inside yourself and radiates out. And everything in between? That’s life. And you’ve got to keep it balanced.