Eduard Lorenz, a mathematician and meteorologist, discovered that a very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome. This was named the butterfly effect. It postulates that a small change, such as a butterfly flapping its wings, can have a significant effect elsewhere, such as leading to a tornado.
Possible a somewhat fanciful explanation, but the point made is that the number of events leading to an significant occurrence are uncountable. So why am I writing about this?
To me it is getting clearer by the day, that whatever I think, I'm not in charge - of anything except my decision at any given moment. I have tried to make this visually understandable with the design of my poster (see here). Each human being is constantly bombarded by external claims on their attention, be it such things as the weather, the location, the situation, the friends and relatives and enemies, the physical needs for food water, air and rest; and so on and so on.
We are influenced by all and sundry, like it or not. So how can we think we make any independent choices whatever?
We are taught that there are rules which have to be obeyed. I have to be like so and so, or I have to achieve such and such, I should be nice to people, I should respect others, I should conform to the norm, whatever that may be.
So we spend our lives doing our best not be ourselves, but someone else. That is sick. We mostly have no idea who we are, because we are constantly measuring ourselves against the invisible, constantly present, other, to know if we are doing OK. It also means that the ideal we set for ourselves, is to be better than others at least at something.
This endless proving ourselves is clearly the cause of so much dissatisfaction in the world, often with fatal consequences. I have to better than you, if I can't, I have to better than someone. So we have rivalries instead of agreement and working together. My team has to better than your team. I'm a man so I must be better than a woman, I am white so I must be better than a black person, my religion is more right than yours, etc. etc.
To manage this, we choose leaders to make sense of all that, forgetting that each of those chosen are subject to exactly the same chaotic world as each one of us. They do not have a magic eye that sees clearer. There are too many aspects to each an every event for anyone to control or manage. Just look at how politics works: it's a system which many use to feather their own nest and certainly not to act for the common weal.
So what, you may well ask. An example much closer to home, is the COVID pandemic. A tiny virus, so small it's invisible to us, has led to complete change of the world and how we live. Can't predict that in detail. Although it's been known for years that the chances of such an event occurring are high, nobody was adequately prepared for the consequences, many of which are still to come.
Given the plethora of events which constantly interact with each other, why do we still not see that we can't make the universe conform to our wishes, but that we have to constantly adapt to the changing circumstances. The most obviously changing factor, which we ignore most of the time, is that we, each individual, is also constantly changing. I'm not the same as I was yesterday, and neither is the weather, nor my neighbours or my environment. We think we know what is happening and what is going to happen, but we have only the most superficial of ideas. It's why I talk about Maya, the great illusion. We act as though we know what we are doing and are inevitably surprised when things do not go according to plan. We behave as though we are going to live forever, even though all around us is the evidence to the contrary.
Perhaps we will one day take notice of the simple facts: we are not in charge! It's not scary, it's comforting. my job is to be conscious and enjoy the time I have to experience everything possible, which having a body enables me to. I don't have to try and make the world fit my ideas, I can just enjoy the amazing place I've been cast into until it stops, as it will. For me, at 73, I know that future is not so distant, but the future is always one breath away, so I intend to enjoy the breath I have.