Butterflies and small things

I was sitting on the bus yesterday reading about Egypt, and the contraction in the UK economy, and a woman who was about to be deported to Uganda, and a schoolkid who was bullied (and later committed suicide) for being gay – when I had a huge moment of doubt, not that dissimilar (I don’t think) from the one I read about here a few weeks ago.

What is the point, really, of my writing or, indeed, many of the things I spend my days doing?

And yet, who am I, with a patchy knowledge and very little meaningful experience, to contribute to the important stuff that’s going on?

It left me feeling redundant and slightly ridiculous. I am acutely aware that we only have one existence, and I would like mine to count –

This is a post about butterflies.

It is inspired by the image on my header, though when I asked for the butterfly to be added, the significance hadn’t crossed my mind. It goes – a little – against the intense inadequacy that I have been feeling; but is a reminder of the other way that we can help –

One small change can provoke a hurricane.

I have been trying to hold onto this recognition. To not kill it with scepticism nor lose it in the light of the very real and very enormous challenges that people are facing today.

The fact that a smile can bridge disconnection. That one kind word can stop an angry one. That one person – and another one person – and another one person – can have quite a mighty impact. That what is given to me – I give to the next person – who gives it to the next person – who might one day change the world.

It is this last bit that has really got me thinking. It continually amazes me how interconnected we, as people, are. We see the big ripples but we do not always acknowledge – or recognize – the little ones from which they are made.

p.s. the link behind “mighty impact” is a case in point. I was thinking, before writing this, that the theory might not really apply to the real struggles that people experience; but I think that the 5 Quid For Life movement shows how it can.


19 responses to “Butterflies and small things

  1. Butterflies are awesome 😉

  2. Thank you. Every tiny flap of a butterfly’s wings stirs a little movement in the air … and those tiny ripples can build and build until we have — as you say — a hurricane … a wind that rips across the world. Not to destroy but to bring hope and change; and that’s what I’m hoping for with 5 Quid for Life 🙂

    • I find 5 Quid fod Life totally inspiring. I guess there’s the risk of destruction – but also the potential for small acts of good to impact and for the little things that we each do to make a real difference. And I think that’s what I want to hang onto.

  3. And all those big things that get reported in the newspaper are often made up of little things too.

    • Yes, that’s the other thing I keep forgetting – that we only see the “full” picture and not necessarily the build up or context. And I guess that this makes the events seem all the more shocking sometimes.

  4. “One small change can provoke a hurricane.”

    I’m not sure if I should say this, because it might upset you, but that’s exactly what worries me.

    One little thing wrong can have dire consequences. Even when done with good intentions.

    It’s very scary.

    • I agree. I look at what I’ve started with 5 Quid for Life and, quite frankly, it terrifies me: who am I to start something like this? On what basis should anyone trust me or anyone else in the group? And what if it doesn’t work? What if we end up with people crying for help and we’re not ready or we don’t have the funds available? What if, what if…?

      But then I look at the other side of the equation: if it does work — wow! We may not be able to change the world — but we can change someone’s world! And — well I guess it brings me back to my new year’s post: New Year’s Risk: Adjusting my sails. Amazing to think we’re still in the same month that I posted that — and didn’t have a clue that this might be where it would lead. I’m feeling all blown away now…

      • Phil, Wow is right. What you’re doing is amazing. I’m so inspired and awed.

      • Phil – I love this bit from Ward in your post:

        To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss,
        to love is to risk not being loved in return,
        to live is to risk dying,
        to hope is to risk despair,
        to try is to risk failure

        Thanks so much for commenting: for sharing the risks and fears and things that often prevent me from acting. Just in case something bad happens can so often be in expense of the something good. Changing one person’s word means that that one person can change the next persons and so on. I wish you all the very best. xx

    • Sanabituranima – I am very glad you did say this. It’s a hugely important point and one that has also made me scared of doing lots of things. The responsibility is terrifying….and yet, I kind of hope that if we do things with good intentions, the intentions count too if that makes sense. The thought that we all impact on each other, whether the effects are known or unknown, is scary but I don’t think that can keep us from acting. I guess it just means that we need to be aware. I also think that the outcomes aren’t set in stone: if one action has a negative impact, another could tip the balance back – in other words the scale is not always so disastrous or extreme. xx

  5. You’re having the same self-conversation I’ve been having for weeks. I keep coming back to the same place. If I don’t believe I matter, then what’s the point? … I can’t live there. Of course one person can make a difference. It happens all the time. And I think the most common way it happens is, as you’ve written here, one person to one person to one person…

    A lot of times I do things not because I know my destination but because I think “wherever this leads me, it will be awesome.” My love project is like that. Connection to people crazy enough to believe that their love makes a difference in the world cannot possibly be anything but amazing… for me and you and everyone we touch. That’s what I have to believe (right through my moments of doubts.) xo

    • This: “If I don’t believe I matter, then what’s the point?” – yes, totally. And you’re right. If I think about all the times that a passing comment has given me the answer I’ve been looking for; or a smile has made me light up inside; or an act of kindness has opened up a new opportunity….

      I guess that sometimes I get so blown away by the big stuff and so awed by the people who are involved in that and so aware that I am a little too introspective or scared to do what they do that I can’t see where I can contribute. But then I rememeber the interconnectedness thing and that it really is the little and continuous acts of love that help. xx

  6. Totally can relate. I feel like a hodge podge or mosaic of random information limited to speak on what I know sometimes. Love this post. It truly is eye opening and got me thinking!

    • I felt sick after writing this post. That I could mention serious things that people could dispute; that I might be wrong; that my opinion was silly….writing can be terrified sometimes and, as well as reminding me that the little actions are important, this post has helped me to realise how much courage is needed to write and to share your stance on things that could be emotive or complex. It’s got me thinking too 😉

  7. I agree with you – smiles and kindness can make a huge difference. Meeting you on twitter and all of your kindness and support have been hugely beneficial to me. I know you and I may never meet, but my life is richer knowing that there are people like you out in the world.

    • Aw. Thank you. And totally goes both ways. I have learnt so much about the difference that a kind word or a hello can make from Twitter – and it’s rippled far into my world I think. Case in point?! 😉

  8. In brief, I love the butterfly idea and chaos theory in spite of the ultra-scary implications. It is inspiring to think that small things, little movements and shifts can bring seismic changes and have huge effects.

    It might be unnerving, but remembering that constantly is beneficial if it means that we smile, show kindness and compassion and reach out to people all the time. You never know what one nice, positive little thing can produce or spread out to… 😀

    It only takes one flame to burn down the forest, right? Great, positive thought-provoking post as always. 🙂

  9. Thanks James – I’ve been so struck by how precarious things are – both towards the negative and positive; and, whilst that used to scare me, I guess it’s also an opportunity to move things forward and it’s important to hold onto that. xx

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