The Butterfly Effect

Monarch Butterfly, copyright Ellen Wilson

“Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.”

Henry Adams

If you want to live, embrace the unknown.  Stay in the now, and let life do life.  All too often we become mired in the fear of the future, or the regret of the past.  We want to nail things down and have it all laid out in a GRAND PLAN.

Sometimes our plans go awry, and we still have to pick up the pieces and go on.  For instance, let’s take writing.  Writing is hard work, and it sometimes doesn’t go as planned.  So I really don’t know exactly how this piece will turn out, but I can only give it breath to spread its wings.

Brett Legree, author of 6 Weeks, recently wrote a post about the Butterfly Effect.  I said I would like to go on with that idea, and he said that would be great.  I could put my own personal spin on it.

The blogosphere is a big world.  A choatic world.  I met Brett over at Men with Pens, as I have other great writers.  Writers who are beginning to weave their words, or practice their art.   I admire these people and champion their efforts.

Because it is all about interconnection.  Otakuyeowasin.  Chaos is not something that happens in a vacuum, we all touch eachother somehow, though sometimes it is impossible to say just how.

But I do know this.  Recently Brett posted an article about a friend of his whose brother won a Canadian medal of honor for saving his mother, while losing his own life, in a burning house.  The trouble is, no one really cared about this person before this medal.  But suddently this so called medal, this badge of honor, made this person someone everyone could reflect on.  As if the medal made the person.

This story hit one of my sore spots.  And after reflecting on this article, I had some psychological revelations of my own, which caused me some pain, but was good for my growth.  And we all know about growing pains.  Unfortunately we still get them after we grow up.

The butterfly wing touched me gently, and the winds of change blew on.

In flies Friar, who feels like an ugly duckling blogger.  Of course he is a swan, but he is new to blogging and feels like he is swimming in circles, in chaos.   Friar is a great artist and is practicing his craft in the blogosphere.  He is finding his way.  I admire his spirit and the fact that he can embrace chaos and practice his art.   Friar is the author of The Deep Friar.  Check out his crispy words, tasty tidbits and wicked sense of humor.  He’s got a lot on his mind.

Because out of chaos springs life.

I was going to go one about the scientific implications and structure of the Butterfly Effect and Chaos Theory, but my post did not evolve that way.  All I need to say now is that it is all contingent on the sensitive dependence of intitial conditions – meaning of course, it all starts somewhere and evolves into something…

You get my point.  You are the butterfly that makes the change of all our interconnections.  Spread your wings and see where they take you.

Photo Credit: © Ellen Wilson

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40 thoughts on “The Butterfly Effect”

  1. Ellen,

    Thank you for this, it is beautiful. A beautiful piece of writing, a reflection of all that is you. I love it. We are all spreading our wings – I’m not sure where they will take us, but it will be good.


    Brett Legree’s last blog post..why blogging for profit is like collecting underpants.

  2. Ellen,

    I was reading this post, then I got distracted by your lovely words for The Deep Friar, I’m LOL at his post, then I forget where I was and wander to the email and find you’ve commented at MCE… then I remember where I was!

    So I just wanted to say that you have a really good perspective on things, and that the one constant IS chaos. There’s a lot of joy in floating with it, and this post is a good reminder of that. Thanks!



    Kelly’s last blog post..Chapter the Next, Wherein the Author Gets Fan Mail

  3. Ellen

    WOW!!! Thanks SO MUCH for the referral and the kind words. That was so nice! I can’t believe a serious blogger like you would take the time write about a rookie like me. (I only met you what….a week ago?). And because of you (and Brett), I’m starting to meet a lot of other nice people too.

    I agree..I do have a lot on my mind. (The problem is I can’t make it stop!)

    It IS quite chaotic. I think my butterfly is causing hurricanes in the Phillipines as we speak.

    Friar’s last blog post..Motivational Posters for Dummies

  4. @Brett – The true spirit of the Viking!

    @Kelly – Thanks for your kind words. Your wit is always welcome here. Glad you are reveling in the chaos.

    @Friar – I don’t know if I’m a “serious” blogger. I don’t really have aims to take over the blogosphere. Is that part of being a serious blogger?!

    Our minds are always chaotic. It’s part of being human. Plus, whenever you start a new creative venture you get that burst of energy in all directions. Do you think so?

  5. Ellen, people tend to fear chaos opting for order. Life is not always orderly. I find beauty in chaos, the convergence of ideas, thoughts and people that form a unique tapestry that is a snapshot of life. This post (as all) was awesome. I tagged it to Technorati and posted on FaceBook. You are amazing!

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..Fierce Friday: Running The Race

  6. @Ellen,

    Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die… 🙂 now where’s my helmet?

    What you said was so true, about chaos and the mind. It is part of being human, a beautiful part, and one that makes it hard for me at my day job. I’m like a small child, trying to work away at a task, when I suddenly say, “look, a flower…” (wanders over to see it) “look, a butterfly…”

    But it is who I am, and I’m going to explore that. I like that part of me.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..why blogging for profit is like collecting underpants.

  7. Hi Ellen
    I am new to your site my not to the Butterfly effect. Thank you for posting on it. In fact, I could read a post of the BE everyday. It reminds me that my every thought and action is connected to another and touches the world somehow.
    The other day I looked at a vase on one of my tables in the den. I have had it for many years, and it’s a cheap manufacturedvase in blue glass. I like the shape and design. It occured to me that someone, somewhere, made that vase. Either by hand or in a factory, really it made little difference to me. Someone had done something they have most likely forgotten years ago, and I find pleasure and see beauty from it every day.
    Thank you!

    Harmony’s last blog post..That is MY Seat!

  8. Ellen

    I agree. For the past 10 years, I’ve been using my painting and drawing as an outlet for my creativity. I never really thought much about writing (I did enough of it at work).

    But now that I’ve started blogging, this is the biggest fresh burst of creativity I’ve felt in (????) years. It feels incredible. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to feel excited about something again.

    There’s also bit of guilty pleasure involved (i.e. commenting on your blog while I’m at right now).

    (Someone should really sit down and have a talk with me…I need an attitude adjustment so I can meet “Expectations”)

    Friar’s last blog post..Motivational Posters for Dummies

  9. @Karen – Thanks for that, and I don’t even know what Technorati and Facebook does exactly. I have some familiarity with Digg. And that’s it.

    @Brett – Chaos is designed to keep us from thinking we are solid. Day jobs are designed to give us food. Most of us don’t hunt anymore, and we have to fill the fridge.

    @Harmony – I think we have lost of our sense of interconnectivity in our Western way of thinking. Unfortunately. I like the vase analogy – very good. In fact I often wonder about what the people in China are thinking about when they make all of our trinkets for import here in the US.

    @Friar – Guilty pleasures will improve your productivity. And soon you will designing new and improved motivational posters. I already like the new designs on your site.
    You can’t block creativity forever. It’s the life force, and it will come exploding out somehow.

  10. It’s ironic, because what I’m doing (right now) at work is “writing”, and it’s the complete, total opposite of the wonderful chaos and creativity we’re been discussing.

    I’m re-writing the same dry, boring technical document, over and OVER, for the Nth time, to the point that I want to vomit.

    Cut and paste. Change this word. Add this reference. Replace “should” with “shall”. Save. Re-save. Etc.

    I have to address each and every reviewer’s anal, nit-picky, obsessive-compulsive comment, and it all has to be CAREFULLY documented, and everything signed off in triplicate, etc…

    All this, for a procedure to install a WALL.

    Jesus Christ. Talk about totally sucking the fun out of writing.

    (Which explains why I take “mental breaks” like these, and check out what the rest of you are doing).

    Don’t tell my Section Head, eh?

    Friar’s last blog post..Motivational Posters for Dummies

  11. Friar,
    I gotta tell ya, I don’t do technical writing, but many of my clients are technical. I can lose my wits over the details. I sooooo hear you.
    May a butterfly gently fly past your window and remind you that your every action and thought is creating a repsonse. Someday that wall will protect a family or something precious to someone. 🙂
    Okay, that’s all I got!
    If that doesn’t help, there is red vino…and it is Friday!

    Harmony’s last blog post..That is MY Seat!

  12. @ Friar – Man, that sucks. One reason I don’t do technical writing. Take it with a grain of salt. It does suck the brains right out the window.

    @Harmony – So true. It is Friday, and I’m sure that Friar will help someone with the cement wall. Do ya think, Friar?

  13. @Ellen,

    Oh, I hear you, we need our day jobs… but sometimes I’d rather hunt, or perhaps be a farmer. The main trouble I have where I currently work is that the changing culture is locking down creative thinking. Creative thinkers start to have problems fitting in (just ask Friar, he understands).

    He & I like to work outside the box, get the job done, and have a little fun doing it… chase a butterfly, so to speak.

    Unfortunately, that is disappearing from our workplace. But what can we do? We can *live* away from work, we can write, and we can interact with our great friends out here.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..why blogging for profit is like collecting underpants.

  14. @ Ellen: Yeah, I think I will need to take more than a few grains. I’m thinking mabye a whole bag of salt! (Which we recently had a shortage of in Splat Creek….Hmm…another idea for a Blog Posting perhaps?)

    I agree with Brett. I’ve never seen such a dysfunctional f**ked up work culture in my entire 20 year career as an engineer, as where I am now. It’s like they want to kill all creative and independent thinking. Sometimes I wonder if for my own sanity I’ll have to quit and pack up and move.

    Geezus, I would LOVE to write about my job (the Widget Factory provides us with comedic material on a daily basis) Except I gotta watch it (in case Uncle Big Brother is listening).

    The work-related stuff I’m writing about now is pretty generic and safe. I’ve really toned it down. But if I was “allowed” to write about the REAL stuff that goes on, I’d have all of you pissing your pants laughing.

    @Harmony: Awww. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement. Along with Ellen and Brett, that ranks up there as one of the nicest things anyone has said to me in a long time.

    Friar’s last blog post..Small-Town Radio

  15. @Brett – The more people you have uniting in the F band, the better it will be at work. Maybe you can start a revolution.

    @Friar – I have worked a few jobs in my time, and in places where I thought people would be enlightened and moral. Not so. There is dysfunction everywhere.
    I would suggest going underground so the widget factory cannot track you. Even the best trackers can’t find clever creatures who cover their tracks.
    I would enjoy the cutting edge Canadian satire.

  16. I don’t know if I’ll be wearing a helmet.

    Do you guys like to hunt morels up there? You know, the mushrooms?

  17. Well, Hagar the Horribles’ wife has a helmet. It works for her, dosen’t it? (Though from Ellens’ photo, I can see that she’s much better looking than Helga).

    Mushroom hunting is not so big up here in Splat Creek. But my grandparents were really into it up at the cottage when I was a kid. It’s a Polish thing. My Mom knows how to pick them (in fact, she cooked some up that happened to grow in her front yard last year).

    There is a really funny Jeff Daniels movie that came out a few years ago (called “Moon over Escanaba, I think). It’s all about male bonding and deer hunting in the Upper Peninsula.

    If I didnt’ know any better, I’d swear that movie was filmed on location in Splat Creek, Ontario. The Yoopers and the lads from our area are quite similar.

    If you transplanted the location to Ontario, you would swear

    Friar’s last blog post..Watercolor #8. Flight over Wrangell St. Elias

  18. @ Brett – Interesting to see what kind of Canadian mushrooms you have up there.

    @Karen – Yes, we will have to take you mushroom hunting one of these days. Morels are about $15/oz. It pays to get your nice, fresh mushrooms out of the woods. Plus, it’s good exercise, and you can see all kinds of interesting things in the woods. I found a big badger hole the other day. Actually, I don’t know what it was, but it had made this circular pattern around its hole. Interesting.

  19. @Friar – Say yah to da UP eh! I lived about an hour away from Escanaba! In Marquette. I never did see that movie. I have to watch it one of these days. Yes, I’m sure we even sound alike. But I have lost much of my UP accent.

    What is up with all that male bonding and hunting stuff?

  20. @Ellen,

    I’ll ask him next time I see him, he says he finds a lot of different varieties and he’s a good hunter in every sense of the word.


    Maybe we should watch that movie on Thursday this week, I’ve never seen it 🙂

    Brett Legree’s last blog what you love, and the underpants will follow.

  21. @ Brett. That’s a really good idea. (If they have that movie in the Splat Creek Video Store).

    @Ellen. Hey, I think I drove past Marquette once (around 3 AM at the tail end of a cross-country road trip).

    We males need to bond and hunt and fish or drink beer, periodically. To get the stupidity out of our system. Then, we can go back to our responsible normal lives for the rest of the year.

    Friar’s last blog post..Watercolor #8. Flight over Wrangell St. Elias

  22. I’m a big fan of the butterfly effect/chaos theory. Blogging and the internet in general allow for a great deal of potential synchronicity and serendipitous discovery.

    When you also have a little quantum physics to work with you can see that it’s not that we are finding these new connections but that we are removing the blocks that have artificially separated us.


    Darren Daz Cox’s last blog post..“as art” art – for example “the blog post as art” is it art?

  23. @Darren – I love that, “removing the blocks that have artificially separated us.” That is great stuff. It spins off all kinds of ideas in my mind.

    I really like your artwork by the way (but you know that). You have a majorly grand site. Do you exhibit at any art fests? See, I need to get this best seller done so I can spend money on great artists. That is what is wrong with society. We need more art, that’s what. Less war, more art. Actually, no war would be good.

    @Brett – An excellent idea! I will rent it and think of you guys. And have some ice-cold Labatts. I wish I could have a fire in my backyard. We are “allowed” those little pot fires. They are not proper fires in my book, but they will do the trick in a pinch. The funny thing is you have to spend around $100 for these little smoke hole pot fire thingys.

  24. @Ellen,

    That sounds like a nice idea – we’ll let you know when we have it, we could watch it simultaneously in two different locations! Ah yes, Labatts. I like Labatts 50, so I’ll get some for Thursday and we’ll raise a toast to you 🙂

    I think that the local constabulary would officially get grumpy if we had an open fire, if they saw it. But my back yard is really private. We also have the pot fire thingy, though, as it is convenient. We’ll have to see what we do for Beltane, though (big fire, big fire).

    Brett Legree’s last blog what you love, and the underpants will follow.

  25. @Friar – Still trying to understand the male psyche. Maybe one of these days.

    @Brett – Yeah, let’s agree on a time. I’m checking tomorrow at the video store. I don’t think we have Labatts 50 here. They water our beer down in this country.

  26. @Ellen – sounds great! I’ll find the movie as well, tomorrow. I had a look at the Labatt USA site, and I think it is pretty similar in flavour to what we have here. I think you have Blue there, 50 is just an ale while Blue is a lager.

    Some of the US microbrewery stuff is good though. Samual Adams Triple Bock is 17 percent alcohol (mmm, I miss that stuff)

    Brett Legree’s last blog what you love, and the underpants will follow.

  27. Darrens’ comments remind me of butterflies causing hurricanes. Years ago, I just started working for a major hi-tech company with 20,000 employees. That was in late 2000, just before everything went to hell in a handbasket.

    My buddies kidded me about this. They plotted a graph of the company stock versus time. The stock started to plummet just when I started my new job (almost exactly to the exact DAY!)

    Mabye I was the tiny butterfly that caused the Hi-Tech Meltdown of 2001.

    (Geez, I hope not).

    PS. Labatts 50 was always good to bring to parties. Nobody would touch that stuff, so you didnt’ get your beer stolen.

    Friar’s last blog post..Watercolor #8. Flight over Wrangell St. Elias

  28. @Brett – Oh, they make a big to do about it here, ’cause it’s local. I might like Honey Brown Better. We’ve been saving the bottles in the garage, for home brew. That should be a riot.

    Oh, and I forgot to ask, do you think failure at one thing means we should keep at it? Or move on to the next thing? Or should we listen to our gut?

    Sometimes I get confused about this.

    @Friar – It’s a sign for sure. It’s a sign you should be painting. And staying away from Labatts 50. I love the Canadian Beer Stores. I love the conveyer belts. Why doesn’t the government allow beer and liquor to be sold in the same store? I could never figure that out. Just look for the orange sign! Especially before you head out of the Soo, eh?

  29. @Ellen – Honey Brown is awesome stuff, I really like it – there are a few brands up here where we are.

    I think we should always listen to our gut feeling. It is okay to fail and fail again, if you really want to do something.

    All sorts of people failed, and failed, and then succeeded. Edison with the light bulb. If we look at just writers, JK Rowling, and John Grisham – both of them had a terrible time and were rejected by just about every publishing house around.

    I’m sure glad they kept going. They inspire me to do the same.

    What I can say is this – you’ll know. Look at yourself in the mirror, and you’ll know.

    I like what Steve Jobs said about it:

    “…for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

    There’s much more to what he said, if you want to see this check out the video at

    (Hope you didn’t mind the long comment!)

    Brett Legree’s last blog what you love, and the underpants will follow.

  30. There is nothing more real than death. Yes. Than I wonder why we do not give life this same sanction?

    Is it because we don’t remember being born?

    You are right. Even though I try and reject it everyday with everything I have been told. And learned.

    Thank you for this kind passage. E

    Remember DEATH! The great equalizer.

  31. I wonder that sometimes myself, why do we not give life this same sanction? Perhaps as you say, because we do not remember being born.

    I’m happy that you enjoyed the words. The video itself is worth watching, as Steve’s words are filled with emotion. The first part of the quote, the question in the mirror, I asked myself that some time ago.

    When the answer came back as “no” many, many times, I started on my current path.

    Brett Legree’s last blog what you love, and the underpants will follow.

  32. Brett,

    I love that video! I’ve watched it a couple of times before and it totally chokes me up. (I’m a total Steve Jobs fanboy (?) already so I have a head start. To me he only speaks in utter genius.)

    I love how he talks about every step leading to where he is, even his darkest moments leading to finding his wife. Hey, it’s the Butterfly Effect!

    Until later,


    Kelly’s last blog post..Are You a Manager or a Leader? Why Pushing Change Always Fails

  33. @Brett and Kelly – I have never heard of Steve Jobs. Thanks for sharing this. I’m watching it today. And I don’t even need to get it out the video store!

  34. Ellen,

    I hope that you will like it as much as I enjoyed it. I watch it again from time to time. Steve inspires me because he went after his dreams, no matter what. Things haven’t always been smooth for him. But it didn’t matter to him.

    Another one, that has a different ending, or will, is this one:

    Randy Pausch is also ill, and he will not survive. He has accepted this, and is getting on with his life. A lot of wisdom in his words.

    Brett Legree’s last blog hero.

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