Thursday, December 13, 2018

Theory of Chaos

I'm tutoring an awesome Frenchman in English who happens to be a mathematician. He brought up in our last meeting the Theory of Chaos. "Tu connais?" he asked. I didn't know it, but he explained:

"The Theory of Chaos is that anything, anything even so small, anywhere on the planet that's happening, affects you. For example, a butterfly flying in Polynesia can ever so slightly affect the wind, which changes the way an ant may be walking and stumbles upon someone's foot and gives it a bite; the person starts to itch and need aloe cream, which affects the time the cashier at the store makes a call to her cousin in the U.S., which affects the time the cousin goes for a jog that evening, which affects a car that waits for her to cross the street, in which car you sit as you wait to make your way to a theatrical play, which affects the seat you get by the time you get there, which affects how you perceive the play, and so on, and so on, infinitely."

Is that not amazing? First, that he explained the above Theory of Chaos in English after only beginning to learn English as a grown man in 2015 (I have polished it for this purpose, but wow - worthy of an entirely different blog post). And second, that when you really think about it, this feels irrefutable. Even the most subtle, tiniest, imperceptible decisions are touching the collective chaos, like a bunch of marbles clicking and clacking together over and over again. While this also underscores that Life can feel so unpredictable, it makes me realize that the more of us do small things with positive energy, the more the shape of the Chaos and its energy overall does change.

Individually, I am part of our giant, chaotic Collective. In Yoga, this is explained as drops of a large ocean. Each drop of an ocean - how do you define what makes a drop? the size? the shape? we don't really have one, there are so many kinds of drops - each drop of an ocean is the ocean, and the ocean is all of the drops. We- natural beings, big and small - are the drops. How we think, how we act, how we behave shapes ourselves, shapes our immediate circle most obviously, but we often forget that it shapes the Collective in its Entirety. For those of us who believe in Divine intervention, this does not conflict with the concept of an Intention, a Plan, but that we have been granted Free Will. It's a question of using our Free Will well.

If you're like me, sometimes when I'm looking at Facebook or newsfeeds to educate myself about the world's atrocities and how to help, my heart and body and mind start to cave in: betta fish stuck in isolation in plastic jars like props, people killing people, sexual abuse, bears trapped in rusting cages to make unnecessary beauty products, mounds and mounds of plastic and trash on the side of the road, in our forests, in our oceans, in our water, our food, our Everything. I'm a sensitive person (always have been, and finally understand that it's a strength and not a weakness I should apologize for; I just needed to learn how to harness it and transform it while creating boundaries for myself - something that I'm learning to do better each day), and as a sensitive person when I look at the world all at once and see all of the bad, all of the shit, all of the indifference and lack of deference, I'm just like, what. hope. is. there. at. all. It is absolute chaos.

And it is exactly that. Chaos we are a part of. Chaos that we have the Free Will to shape.

My mathematician tutoring student just rolled me this marble, which has just clacked into my brain that anything, any small thing that I choose to do with a good heart, does have an effect. It does. It might not be something I perceive. The butterfly in Polynesia might not affect the ant's direction much, but its position affects the wind on its wings without question - imperceptible to me, yes, but not imperceptible in the grand scheme. It has not just one effect, but so many - the sunlight casting a shadow of its wings on the grass depending on the time of day, how it affects the growth of the grass, etc., etc. When I think about this as just a set of action verb after action verb, I'm still unsettled that a deed I see as helpful may not only have positive ripples, that it's just a sea of unpredictability of actions. But when I consider this as an energetic concept, it's hard to deny that any small act of good that I observe or receive positively shapes me. Perhaps the formula isn't perfect, perhaps we can't control everything and that can bring us down, but most of the time, good energy yields good energy. And that is something we can control.

Now that this marble clacked a marble in my brain and heart, I hope my writing this and sharing clacks a marble (or few) in you to feel hope and possibility when it all looks like Chaos. To do what you think might be too small, not a big enough thing, whenever it calls you. Just do. You don't have to have some kind of weekly resolution to be the person who picks up a piece of litter. You don't have to be the perfect environmentalist or animal activist to opt for the more expensive humanely-treated eggs whenever you can. Little by little. Every little bit of good energy counts shifts the chaos - our Collective - for the better.