There’s a term in science
that is used poetically to refer
to the theory that the tender flutter
of a butterfly’s wings
could cause a storm -
a tornado, a hurricane,
deaths, destruction, the end.
The smallest force changes
the course of time, and nature.
And fate is an action that depends
upon the compression of muscles
smaller than the circumference
of a single paperclip.
This theory is styled “The Butterfly Effect”.
To phrase another way:
a grain of sand once moved
affects the entire ocean;
it stirs the particles around it
and the spider that was once safe
has been crushed by an avalanche of sand,
and the waves have risen
a fraction of a fraction of a centimeter,
so that the minnow didn’t mate
and the fish lost its dinner.
So there was nothing to feed
the fisherman’s family and
the course of a world has changed -
Because the absence
of a single grain
I cannot tell whether
the butterfly that changed the weather
moved on its own accord
or if the breath of God
moved her tiny wings.
But I do believe that the shutter from
the rise and fall of a creature, so small
that I could crush with my palm,
could create a chain reaction -
a new sequence of events
that could alter my life.
I wonder; if a butterfly and a
piece of dirt that clung too closely
to the sole of my foot have the capacity
to cause such crucial consequences,
if the conditions and the surroundings
are right or wrong,
then what about my movements?
My actions, my feelings, my gestures, my words -
Are they so insignificant that the slightest brush
of another being could cause them to be
Or might they be so significant that I
have the power to move mountains
and nations, changing the very ground,
the language, and the bodies that surround me?
The effect of the butterfly
is at once too massive and too insubstantial
for me to comprehend with my mind
that seems to only be good for telling jokes
or reading books, or functioning within the world
that is visible and tangible around me,
but is a poor tool to recognize
tornadoes, or hurricanes, or oceans,
or poverty, or death, or love, or truth.
But just thinking about the air rising
around the butterfly’s wings,
as the world’s temperature grows
and value of a dollar declines,
and imagining the storm that moves
oceans, and has the power to destroy
everything that I thought was important
makes me feel like the world is off my shoulders
for a moment and resting between the slender
space of air between two orange and black patterned
wings that formed in a magical cave of a cocoon
that I will never be able to see or control.
And that my job is just to try to appreciate
the small and the enormous, the bug and the ocean,
and know that I am both everything and nothing.
And that I cannot possibly understand or know
everything about the world, or life, or purpose.
But here I am.