Have you heard of the butterfly effect? It’s named that because it’s the idea that a butterfly flapping it’s wings can effectively change the course of a weather system weeks later. So basically, it’s the idea that seemingly inconsequential things from earlier in a time line can cause huge divergences from forecasted outcomes.
Let me tell you a story. It might be true, or it might be false. The truth is that it’s as true as it can be given the hazy layers of the varnish of memory applied by the distant brush strokes of time.
There are folks who were born in the late fifties, and I’m one of them. I was born in Toronto. And if I’d stayed there, I might eventually have been diagnosed as a child with Minimal Brain Dysfunction.
I’m movin’ on …
I didn’t stay there, though it wasn’t for fear of that diagnosis. My family moved north, to Newmarket, around the time that I turned one and then farther north to a tiny village called Kemble when I was three and a half.
In this tiny village lived a retired school teacher who happened to be my grandmother. By the time I started school at age six (there was no kindergarten there) I could read and write, add, subtract, multiply and divide.
I had some struggles in school, mostly due to not having any work to show my teachers for grading. I had a hard time producing things because, since I knew the stuff already, it was boring doing it over and over again. But they always knew if I knew my lessons. It seems I was chatty enough to tell them.
Might I intervene?
The thing is, that this moving was an intervention of sorts. I was moved to a place where my grandmother, a retired teacher had a free hand in raising me. I was raised by a mother who encouraged me and challenged me. I was brought up in a place where I could not slip by unnoticed, well, not easily. I started in a school where there were a total of 35 children, and only six of us were in grade one.
Moving a hundred and forty miles north of one of the bigger cities in North America might be more than just the flapping of a butterfly’s wings to me, but in the grand scheme of things, it was an inconsequential move by a statistically insignificant number of people to a statistically insignificant blip on a map of farmland.
And just who am I?
Perhaps I am still not a significant or influential entity and perhaps I never will be, but I get messages and I hear stories and I talk with people and I can tell you that if I had been left in that city, I don’t know what my life would be like, I don’t know how my world would appear to me right now. But from what I hear, I know it would be different. And I am fairly certain I would not be any happier. And I strongly suspect I’d be less happy than I am now.
Listen … did you hear that? I think a butterfly just flapped its wings. I hope that blows a fair wind your way.