Make it Happen Monday: Butterfly Effect


I don’t mean to get all scientific on you here….but bare with me for a second.  The butterfly effect is a phrase which encapsulates the more technical notion of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in chaos theory.  Small variations of the initial condition of a nonlinear dynamical system may produce large variations in the long-term behavior of the system.  So this is sometimes presented as esoteric behavior, but can be exhibited by very simple systems: for example, a ball placed at the crest of a hill might roll into any of several valleys depending on slight differences in initial position.

The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear (or prevent a tornado from appearing). The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale phenomena.  Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.

Okay, now for the simple definition:  Something as small and simple as a butterfly flapping it’s wings, can ultimately create major effects such as that of a tornado.  It’s a very interesting concept and it’s something to think about when contemplating a change in your own life.

Change can be viewed as cleansing, scary, unwanted, or many other things…and sometimes we resist or avoid change.  Take a look at status quo North America.  We take comfort in our consistent lives and keep each day as similar to the last as we can.  But sometimes we have to make even small changes…step out of our comfort zone….and experience the great effects that it may have.

“After you’ve done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully.  After five years, look at it with suspicion.  And after ten years, throw it away and start all over.”

~Alfred Edward Perlman

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3 Responses to “ Make it Happen Monday: Butterfly Effect ”

  1. Modern Wheels on October 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    nice topic.. 

  2. Joel Phillips on October 3, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    System Overload, danger, DANGER…


    You’ve really engaged my mind with this post Darryl, which
    is good and bad.  Good because I enjoy
    the mental stimulation, bad because I will not be able to focus on anything
    else until I am finished with this comment. 
    That may seem trivial, but what no one knows is I started formulating
    this comment at 7 this morning, after reading the post.  It is the result of editing and scaling back
    about 13 pages of random thoughts into a coherent statement.  I am an extraordinarily visual thinker and
    the images of ‘The Butterfly Effect” shot through my brain like a kaleidoscope.  I analyzed every frame, becoming confused, then
    seeing structure and order to the chaos.


    I’ll admit I didn’t like the idea of a butterfly flapping
    its wings being the beginning of events that lead to a tornado, at first.  The thought that something so innocent and
    stunningly beautiful could be the leading cause of destruction and death was
    unnerving.  Images of a butterfly on an
    island in the middle of an ocean flapping its wings and a hurricane forming
    started to flood my thought process. 
    What about other bugs, like a grasshopper for instance; could the force
    of a grasshopper jumping trigger seismic events?  I was missing the point.  At least I thought I was anyway.  You see the cause and effect simile presented
    in the “Butterfly Effect” evokes feelings of fear and loss.  It also illustrates that we have no control
    over the events that surround our lives.


    I believe change to be the only constant in the universe,
    despite what we think we know, or are so brazen to believe we have proved.  Fear and loss are the main reasons change is
    resisted or avoided.  At least that’s
    been my experience.  For me, learning to
    embrace change is one of the keys to happiness. 
    I like what Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change
    it.  If you can’t change it, change your


    The universe is dynamic baby!  At the equator the earth is spinning over
    1,000mph.  We are on a rock hurling
    through space at over 66,000mph.  This
    place we call home is a spec in a vast sea of things yet to be discovered or
    even fathomed.  So, consciously trying to
    resist or avoid change seems not only foolish, but a direct violation of the
    natural order.  Maybe the real fear comes
    from realizing we have far less control than we give ourselves credit for.  Maybe we resist change because that would be
    admitting we don’t have the control we feel we need.  Whatever the case, I enjoy watching a
    butterfly flap its wings and take flight, I am comforted knowing whatever life
    brings my way, I am prepared to handle.


    Thanks for stimulating the melon today Darryl, I
    thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on October 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Whoa, thanks for this Joel.  That was one fantastic response to this post and I’m honored that you’d take the time to put down your thoughts.  I’m also super excited that today’s post stimulated your thoughts so much and to me that makes writing it so rewarding.

      I’ve always thought that the Butterfly Effect was such an interesting concept and today’s post allowed me to learn a little more about it.

      Keep on flapping, Joel.

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