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Jeff Mason

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On Mortality and The Butterfly Effect
By Jeff Mason
Last edited: Saturday, September 27, 2008
Posted: Saturday, September 27, 2008

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...traveling back in time - what a rush!

Maybe there is a certainty to our mortaility that we begin to feel as we pass a certain age, or if something catastrophic happens or is looming in our lives...

When life is before you and then, for whatever reason, life seems much shorter than it would be in a normal situation - and you know that there are certain things you want to say or need to say... that you need for your closest friends and family to know -- well, in those situations, I fully believe that, by design, your perspective changes. Part of it, undoubtedly, is psychological; but part of it also may be genetic... maybe some "fatality-encoding" inherent in the substance of our genes. Sort of like when you hear people say that, right before you die, "your whole life flashes before your eyes" - hmm... maybe there is something to that after all.

So, when we hit that point of reflecting on our mortality, do we subconsciously revisit past loves or past relationships? I believe that we do, because we always have a piece of each of them within us - after all, they were an integral part of our lives at one point - for whatever reason. And even though those reasons may have changed, some semblance of those once-felt 'connections' always remains, in some form or fashion. And, in some cases, those past relationships are an enormous part of who and what we have become at this point in our lives.

So... what's the bottom line of all of this?

Each time that one soul touches another soul in this tragically short existence of ours, that encounter is a significant part of collective humanity, and of the universe as a whole; no matter how minuscule such an interaction may seem to be. That having been said, we should take every opportuntiy to leave the most profoundly humane and memorable mark upon those souls whom we encounter on this journey called life because… it matters.

It matters that you held your temper in some unreasonable situation. It matters that you gave a helping hand when one was needed. It matters that you listened when someone needed to be heard.

Each connection and each interaction in the universe affects every single thing it touches such that, if you went back in time and… stepped on a butterfly (that had not been stepped on in ‘this’ day and time), then thousands of people might be killed; people that might otherwise have been saved, if that butterfly had not been stepped on. It is known as “the butterfly effect;” it is also known as “the ripple effect.”

Many of us have seen movies such as “Back to the Future” – and “the butterfly effect” concept is basically what was touted in that movie series. For example, if you were to go back in time and keep your parents from meeting, then you will have changed the outcome of that “branch” of the future, such that you never will be born in that phase of time and space where your parents were kept from meeting one another.

Extending that example, using a butterfly: Let’s say that a power grid was shorted out by a wayward butterfly, which kept a fatal flaw in a major power transformer from causing it to overload. If the butterfly had not shorted out the power grid, that major transformer would have blown, causing a spark that, due to recent drought, set fire to the dried grass in a medium-sized community, thus killing thousands of people while they slept.

All because YOU went back in time, stumbled into the field next to the power substation, and accidentally stepped on the butterfly that should have shorted out the power grid.

Shame on you. Time happens only once – it’s okay to reflect, just… don’t go back!


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Reviewed by Ronald Hull 10/1/2008
Time travel is pure fantasy, but we have great history and human selective memory to make it seem better in the past. Whatever the effects of small events, we all begin and end our life in the present.

Interesting write. Reminds of What Dreams May Come (Robin Williams).

Reviewed by Jennifer Christian 9/28/2008
Awww ... poor little butterfly. I stepped on a honey bee once when I was a child, and I never forget it because it stange me in it's final words. Interesting article, Jeff.

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