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A couple of years ago, I read a genius work by Ray Bradbury called A sound of thunder. It tells a story of several time travelers who have triggered dramatic changes in their world, having accidentally killed a single butterfly while being in the distant past. “Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids. Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon, across Eternity” (Bradbury), says one of the heroes. The main idea of the story is that “a small thing could upset balances and knock down a line of small dominoes and then big dominoes and then gigantic dominoes, all down the years across Time” (Bradbury). In other words, something seemingly insignificant: a casually dropped phrase, a hasty action, a second of indecision, may turn out to be crucial in the long run. And this I believe.
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Everything and everyone in this world is interconnected. One may be a fatalist and explain it by means of the ‘doom’ concept, another may interpret it as God’s providence, someone may even brush it off as a piece of utter nonsense; personally, I do not care about the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’, I just know it works, and that is enough for me.
The moment when relief welled up in my chest, because I did NOT step on that pavement and, most luckily, was NOT hit by that horrendous car, will probably be carved in my memory forever. Honestly, the vehicle appeared out of nowhere, I am even bent on believing it materialized out of thin air. To think of it, had I been given my change in the shop a millisecond earlier, I would most likely have finally learned whether the rumors about the light at the end of the tunnel were true… From that moment, I know, I will no longer get irritated when cashiers act as if they are suffering a severe case of somnambulism.
I will definitely never find out, why the lady at the register was so slow that day, but I am willing to speculate a bit. Maybe, it is because her kid had caught a stomach bug and gave her a tough night. I may even go further and assume that it all happened to him, because he had shared a sandwich with an infected friend. So in case this scenario was true, would it make a heedlessly shared sandwich the reason of my close escape?
Everything seems to have its reason, and sometimes, it terrifies me to think, how the tiniest trifle may lead to quite dramatic consequences. There are plenty of stories like this in real life, literature, cinematography. I have already mentioned an example of a literary work; as for the movies, there is this 1998 Sliding doors film starring Gwyneth Paltrow. It has a captivating plot with an unexpected twist that shows how the protagonist’s life might have changed should she be late for a subway train.
Moreover, there is a whole scientific theory of chaos called the “butterfly effect”. It is “the concept that small events can have large, widespread consequences” (Dizikes, 2008). The precise wording is “a massive storm might have its roots in the faraway flapping of a tiny butterfly's wings” (Dizikes, 2008). I find this vivid image rather appealing, as it puts things into perspective.
A wee butterfly, a mere insect, whose life expectancy quite often does not exceed 24 hours, might contain the power to destroy a city or two in a single flap of its translucent wings. Thus, one may never know the true measure of his or her actions. In fact, one may never know for sure whether his consciousness is really clear. I am in awe of it, honestly, the butterflies I believe.
No man is an island, no action is consequence-free, no thought vanishes without a trace, no good book is read without touching the reader’s heart, no conversation is held without slightly changing the attitude towards the interlocutor, no gain is made without a loss… This list can go on and on without ever coming to an end. Each person is always one thought, word or act away from changing himself and altering the world.
This I believe.
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