My Chaos Theory Behind Relocating Worms

The little things might have the biggest ripple effects

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If you don’t already know, I have a seven-year-old fur child named Albert. He’s an opinionated Lhasa Apso, overly spoiled, and enormously loved. (I included a pic of him at the end) Yesterday, I took him for a walk. At one point, my earbuds pumped music into my skull and my gaze lingered on a crow amongst bare branches in a tree up ahead while Albert sniffed the millionth tree/bush/rock.

Then, for no reason at all, I happened to look down at the sidewalk. As soon as I did, I noticed a worm in the middle of the concrete path still wet from the rain. The worm was flailing about trying to get closer to an edge with grass without hurting its tiny body against the jagged shards of rock. Terrified of being burned alive by the sun hiding behind the clouds. Exposed as brunch to birds of prey. At least, that’s the story in my mind when I noticed it.

I bent down, gently picked it up, and tossed it into the grass. I felt at ease knowing the worm could bury into the dirt. Maybe it would travel under the sidewalk next time.

Chaos Theory

It’s not the first time I’ve relocated worms in my path, nor will it be the last. It’s a habit I developed after watching the movie the Butterfly Effect — yes, the one with Ashton Kutcher — in 2004. Love or hate the movie, but the Butterfly Effect is a real concept invented by meteorologist Edward Lorenz when he said a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can create a tornado on the other. The concept drew interest and became the basis for a branch of mathematics known as Chaos Theory.

Scientific American summarizes chaos theory as,

…variations in initial conditions become so tangled and magnified by the system’s dynamics that the outcome appears to be unpredictably random.

If you step back and look at life, you can recognize cause and effect patterns everywhere. There’re chain reactions spiraling in every direction. Your friend’s blindness to his dating patterns, the changing of the seasons, the way a raindrop will fall down your windowpane. But sometimes, one small variation in the cause can snowball to create a massive and unpredictable outcome.

Yeah… it’s one of those theories that boggles the mind a bit. See, if I left the worm where it was, then maybe a crow would fly down to get it and poo on the windshield of a passing car in the process. Then the driver might turn on their windshield wipers but smears it all over and they can’t see where they’re going! Oh no! While the driver’s distracted, they accidentally hit a biker! *gasp*

……. and it was all avoided when I relocated the worm to safety. Guys, I saved a life yesterday. Hey, it’s possible.

Some people tell me I should leave the worms where they are and allow nature to take its course, and normally I’d agree. But the thing is, we live very distracted lives and rarely consciously notice things around us. How often do you notice the sidewalk? Probably not very often. Then sometimes, for seemingly no reason at all, we notice something that pulls us out of our thoughts. A person, a smell, a worm in your path.

At some point, after I saw the movie, I decided if I notice something random like a worm in my path then there’s a reason it got my attention. And the only reason I can think of is I should move it out of harm’s way, so I do. I know it’s silly, but who cares?

Perspective Shift

There’s so much we still don’t understand. We don’t even know how much we don’t know. But maybe, if we took the time to notice the small seemingly unimportant things around us, we might discover they hold a much larger purpose than we think.

What seemingly random things grab your attention? What do you think it means? Do you feel any sort of urge to do anything about it, or do you just ignore it and continue on with your day?

It could all mean nothing at all, but isn’t it more fun to wonder?

P.s. Isn’t Albert just the cutest?

Life is a curious adventure. I write words & hope they help people not be jerks to each other. Get my newsletter:

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