Are you familiar with the butterfly effect? One slight slight change in any variable can lead to a completely different outcome. Is it possible for the flap of a butterfly’s wing in China to cause a hurricane in the Caribbean? It’s hard to say for sure because that is just one tiny variable in a very complex system. But what would have happened if that butterfly had never existed?
The choices we make every day can have unimaginable results.
Driving down the road, your phone vibrates. You want to look down for just a second to make sure it isn’t an emergency but you don’t. Suddenly a child runs after a ball in front of you. Because you were paying attention, you were able to stop in time, forcing the car behind you to stop as well. What would have happened if you had looked down?
A childhood friend posts on Facebook about how depressed and overwhelmed she’s been since her divorce. You haven’t talked to her since high school and it’s tempting to just leave a teary emoji and scroll down to the next post, but instead you send her a private message to let her know that you understand what she’s going through. Because of your message, she feels hope. What would have happened if you had never reached out?
Your elderly neighbor has a dog who is usually very quiet but wakes you up barking in the middle of the night. This isn’t normal and even though you’re exhausted from a long week you decide to get up to make sure everything is okay. When you ring his doorbell there’s no answer but peering through the window you can see he’s lying on the floor, with the dog barking over him. You call 911. The EMTs are able to perform CPR and resuscitate him. Because you got out of bed, he will survive. What would have happened if you had ignored the dog barking?
Leaving the grocery store you see a woman with a toddler sitting on the side of the road with a sign: “Homeless, anything will help.” The toddler is playing in the dirt with a toy truck, dirty and painfully thin. The mother watches over him, protective but desperate. You stop and pull out the rotisserie chicken you had bought for dinner and also give her the bag of apples you had just bought plus a box of cereal. Because you cared, she and her child will have food not just for tonight but for tomorrow as well. What would have happened if you didn’t stop?
You find out your daughter’s teenage friend is being bullied at school. Your daughter doesn’t want you to embarrass her friend and asks you not to say anything to her parents. One day your daughter shows you a post on Snap Chat that has you concerned she’s going to hurt herself. Again your daughter begs you to stay out of it but this time you call the school to report the bullying. Because you called, the school confronts the bully then contacts her parents; the bullying stops. What would have happened if you hadn’t called?
When you flap your wings, how do you change the world? What small choices do you make every day? What would have happened if you had never existed?
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Slight