As we get older, many of us begin to consider whether our lives have meant anything. Maybe we’ve had a career at an anonymous desk, worked off a ladder, or drove a truck; we may have invested years in a seemingly hopeless cause or spent decades watching TV. We wonder if we’ve made any difference at all.
It helps if we understand that we are butterflies.
The Greek word for ‘soul’ is ‘psyche,’ the same word for ‘butterfly.’ So what? Well, think ‘Butterfly Effect,’ the idea that comes out of Chaos Theory (Google it) which basically says a butterfly’s wings flapping in Brazil can cause a hurricane in Florida, etc.
Most of us measure our lives according to an assumed metric: ‘any action has an equal and opposite reaction.’ So, we add up the things we’ve done and calculate the likely effect. However, the mathematics of modern Chaos Theory tell us that our calculation is wrong. The truth is, we are unable to know the monumental effect that one random act of kindness, one gesture, or one day at the desk may have on the world. Our effects are disproportionate to our actions.
Who had a more significant life: Billy Graham, George Washington, or John Doe? We think we know, but we don’t. Some John or Jane Does did or said something that affected Billy and George in ways that made them the men they became. The point is, we ought not fret about whether we’ve made much of a difference: of course we have; We are butterflies.
Now for the bad news: this thinking can lead to what I like to call the ‘Butterfly Trap.’ More on that in my next post.