Understand How Chaos Connects Us; If You Dare.

Photography by Bradford Chase

There is an amazing invisible web of energy that connects you to people you do not know. It give you power you never considered.

You change the future for individuals you never met, just by going through your typical daily routine.

Do you want to know how? Walk with me through this story. It only takes a few minutes; but it can change the way you look at life forever.

It starts with a gentleman on his way to work…

The sun breaking the horizon hits him in the eyes every morning. Still, he squints through his sunglasses to make out the road ahead, driving the coast route to a job he loves. The smell of oak and cedar works like smelling salts to open the eyes and get the blood pumping. That first cup of coffee is never better than sipped leaning on the rail of a boat under construction.

This man builds boats. Fishing boats designed to catch and haul shrimp. Over the past 30 years, his hands have crafted planks that keep seawater from filling the bilge on ships that venture out daily to earn their owners a share of the million dollar market.

He is a skilled craftsman; taught by his father in the art of carvel planking. Hand-laying the air-dried lumber that form the hulls, strong enough to push back the sea and protect the shrimpers.

His boats seem to stay local, and catch shrimp off the coast of North Carolina.

One boat in particular, the Miss Evans, spent many years in service bringing in shrimp served in restaurants up and down the East Coast.

The Miss Evan’s shrimp was the best of the best. The captain knew of a special place to fish, producing enormous shrimp with an unusually sweet taste and a crisp texture when cooked just right. Biting into these shrimp, you can hear the ocean waves, sense the sand under your bare feet, and feel the saltwater spray.

Although in high demand at the coastal eateries, a few hundred pounds of those shrimp made it inland once or twice a year. They earmarked those tasty shrimp to a special diner run by the Captain’s older brother.

In a small town in the central part of the state, a cozy diner named Pete’s received a shipment of these delectable shrimp delivered only once or twice a year.

It was news in this little hamlet, when they announced the arrival of the Miss Evans’ shrimp with fanfare.

On the edge of town, a small two-bedroom house stood in need of paint. The yard, well-kept but struggling with dying flowers and overgrown trees.

Inside, an elderly lady lived alone. Confined to her bed by a tragic accident many years ago, it limited her in her ability to travel. Still, she was fond of the special shrimp when they arrived and looked forward with anticipation to the news that a Pete’s Diner was awash with the delicacy once again.

The ocean and the vastness of its wonder was a mystery she never saw. Nonetheless, she appreciated good shrimp and saved diligently to purchase a few when they came to town. Pete always delivered them fresh after their arrival and visited with this special lady.

She was kindhearted and had a gifted talent for sewing. Having never married, she focused intently on her trade.

She specialized in making jackets; heavy wool jackets that could keep a person warm and dry in the worst of weather. The reputation of her jackets was well known up and down the eastern seaboard. The fine detail and extra care she put into her coats made them personal. Each was handmade and crafted for the individual who ordered it. Although expensive by the standards of the time, she could only lovingly create 4 or 5 jackets a year due to the complexity of their needlework. Still, the waiting list for future owners was pages long.

A gentleman from New England proudly wore one of those coats every day, weather permitting. He got the coat as a gift many years ago, from a friend who owned a boat building company, the same company from which he purchased most of his shrimp boats.

One worker had mentioned to the owner that his aunt, Miss Evans, made the nicest wool jackets, prized for their fit and finish.

He appreciated the gift so much, he gave a boat the same name; to honor her for the fine work she took so much pride in doing.

He owned a lot of boats in his fleet, and used his popularity as a businessman to propel him to public service. He eventually ran for office and won a prized spot as a U.S. Senator.

This is where the story gets interesting; where you learn you have influence and a connection with others just by being alive.

None of these people knew Edward Lorenze, but he was a smart man; a Harvard trained mathematician and MIT trained meteorologist. And he predicted that these people might impact each other on the timeline of life.

His Chaos Theory, later leading to the term he coined — “The Butterfly Effect,” describes how slight changes in one dynamic system will have an affect on other dynamic systems in proximity, which will affect another, and so on. Like dominoes.

The exaggerated premise that some people use for illustrative purposes imagines the wind produced in South Africa from the flapping wings of a butterfly eventually building to become a hurricane in the Caribbean.

Basically stated, Mr. Lorenz defined chaos: “When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.”

There is a nonlinear web of connections from one action that will cause an unknown outcome at some undetermined point in the future.

Small things can cause big changes later.

Using The Butterfly Effect concept, we can better understand that simple actions made by one individual may profoundly influence people they’ve never met and may never know.

Think about the web of connections in our story:

The boat builder never knew his aunt’s name was emblazoned on a boat he crafted.

The gentleman from New England later became President of the United States, wore the prized wool jacket sewn by Miss Evans at his inauguration, and now it hangs in the Smithsonian.

Miss Evans never knew the shrimp she so loved came from a boat with her namesake, or a jacket she made became famous.

The captain of the Miss Evans eventually retired and moved inland to a small town in central North Carolina; eventually taking over the diner from his older brother, where he serves shrimp when he can get it once or twice a year and still visits with a kind old lady who sews jackets.

Based on the Chaos Theory or the Butterfly Effect; I like to think I have the potential for lots of unseen connections in some form or fashion.

Most of my acquaintances and people I run into each day come from different backgrounds, perform different jobs, and cope with daily life in different ways.

I think we all have a story to tell that brought us to where we are today.

Although each of us is different, I think I still impact many people I don’t even know by what I say and do to get myself through the day.

I wonder what type of tangled web I would discover if I could see all the lines that tie us together as I wiggle through life’s journey.

And what about you?

Do you consider the impact of a smile, a wave, a gesture, or a gift as you go through your day? What about the angry glare or harsh word and how that travels with the person you delivered it too? Are you happy at the end of the day with the ripples you’ve made in other people’s timeline?

I hope when I flap my wings, like the butterfly in South Africa; I create something more pleasant than a hurricane.

I take pictures & write stories. Sometimes I get paid. A perpetual student of life who gets lost on purpose. Clap. Hit Follow. Come along for the ride.

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