Being the butterfly

I was catching up on some reading and came across the quoted paragraph below in a two page excerpt from the Sun Magazine December 2016 issue.

“Some years ago, scientists attempted to create a long-range weather-forecasting program. It turned out that the most minute variations, even the undetectable things, the things they could perhaps not even yet imagine yet as data, could cause entirely different weather to emerge from almost identical initial conditions. This was famously summed up as the saying about the flap of a butterfly’s wings on one continent that can change the weather on another. History is like weather, not like checkers. (And you, if you’re lucky and seize the day, are like the butterfly.) [It’s] like weather in it’s complexity, in it’s shifts, in the way something triggers its opposite, just as a heat wave sucks the fog off the ocean and makes my town gray and clammy after a few days of baking; weather in it’s moods, in its slowness, in it’s suddenness.” Hope in The Dark by Rebecca Solnit

The whole issue felt like a spiritual lift. Both the Solnit quote and the lengthy interview with Ralph Nader. They reminded me that change is simple. It just takes one butterfly… or “five people.” When I first read that bit from the Nader interview it re opened my eyes to all those possibilities that we write off as unattainable. Lost. Unmovable.

It’s all in how we look at ourselves and those around us. I know this from experience as a volunteer moderator on the AHA Support Network. When people are hurting, they go to some dark places. Looking at life in a different way is where change sparks into existence. Being strong enough to open up to other possibilities is the only requirement. I also see this in both corporate and government cultures in my job as a collaboration consultant. Organizations that have become so weighed down by policy and atrophy that change seems impossible.

So I worked that Nader line of thought into one of my corporate training efforts recently. It was a device to show people that they can, collaboratively, effect change and innovation. And just like with people, those shifts within an organization usually make things better. All it takes is, as Nader stated, five women at a table to start the Womens’ right to vote movement in the 1800‘s. They didn’t live to see it come to pass. But the winds of change they created made it happen.

Like Solnit says… history is like weather.


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