In Chaos Theory the butterfly effect is an assumption that if a butterfly somewhere far away flutters its wings then the air turbulence it creates, no matter how small, will move a little more air, and that little air will in turn move more air, and more and more that eventually, several weeks later, a hurricane will develop somewhere else far away.
Can you imagine that? A flap of a butterfly’s wings creates a hurricane weeks later?
Actually, I have seen Chaos Theory happen in reality as I’ll explain right now.
This happened several years ago in Scotland one New Year’s Eve. I had been invited by a friend to his large house to celebrate Hogmanay with his family and friends. There we were, about fifty people or so, gathered in his back garden waiting for the midnight hour to start our outdoor celebrations. Most people were in traditional costumes and I, to oblige and be polite, agreed to wear a kilt provided me by my host.
I must admit it felt a bit draughty and awkward, especially since it was a little cold that night in deepest Scotland.
As I was the guest of honour, or so he said, I agreed to give the countdown to midnight so that the celebrations might begin.
There we were chatting politely to each other, and I standing on the makeshift rostrum next to the band consisting of about a dozen pipers and drummers, when a lone moth, or similar such like insect, flew up my kilt. I immediately and as a reflex action started hopping from foot to foot as the confused insect tried to find its way round in total kilt-induced darkness.
The band leader thought I was doing a modern hitherto unknown highland jig and he gave the signal for the band to start playing.
At this, someone else lit the bonfire in the garden which immediately rose to ten feet flames lighting the whole place.
This prompted another person to start the fireworks display which lit the sky in numerous colors and resounding bangs all over the neighborhood.
The guests all held hands and started singing Auld Lang Syne at the top of their voices around the fire.
This brought out the neighbors from next door into their garden.
“What are you playing at Henderson?” shouted MacTavish the neighbour, “It isn’t midnight yet. We’re at least seven minutes away man …”
“Of course we’re not!” Henderson shouted back, “your clocks must be slow!”
“And you’ve no purpose to dress up in our national costume and have bagpipes and drums … you’re not even Scottish!” retorted MacTavish.
“Of course I am … my great great grand mother was from Dundee, I’ll have you know!” said Henderson getting red in the face.
“Yes … and she was exported or deported to Australia for reasons best known to herself. You’re no more a Scot than a kangaroo is. You’re even having a barbecue … now you can’t get more Australian than that. A barbecue on New Year’s Eve!” MacTavish came back with obvious laughter from his friends on his side of the garden fence.
“I’m Scottish enough to give you a Glasgow kiss old man …”
“Leave my husband alone” interrupted Mrs MacTavish, “you’re Australian all right; and like all Australians you want to celebrate the New Year before every one else …”
At this, for some unknown reason, the band-leader decided to get the pipers and drummers to play Waltzing Matilda and all of Henderson’s guests started dancing round the bonfire and singing the Australian National Anthem.
“There you have it …Waltzing Matilda …” shouted MacTavish drowned by his dogs barking at Henderson’s dogs, “you’re Australians … the lot of you …”
“And you’ve made us miss the New Year countdown …” added Mrs MacTavish, “it’s ten minutes past midnight at least … and we haven’t done first-footing.”
At this point, Henderson’s neighbours from the other side came out into their garden and, believe it or not, they were Greeks.
“Happy New Year to you all” shouted Stavros obviously the worst for wear with drink, “does anyone want a cup of Ouzo?”
Some of Henderson’s guests stopped dancing and went towards Stavros.
“We also have stuffed vine leaves plenty … and youvarlakia with avgolemono and baklava too. Plenty … plenty …” continued Stavros as his wife brought out a large dish laden with food.
At this point two police cars arrived, no doubt called by some other neighbours, and four policemen entered Henderson’s back garden.
“We’ve had reports of a disturbance” said one of the cops.
“Of course it’s a disturbance … it’s the New Year. What do you expect? Get a drink down your neck officer …” replied Henderson offering the policeman a bottle of whisky.
“I think you should keep the noise down, Sir!” said the policeman turning down the drink.
“Sarge … you can’t get them to celebrate quietly. Not tonight surely?” asked the second officer.
“Take a baklava with you!” shouted Stavros from his side of the fence as the police left, “or a Greek kalamata olive. It is the best!”
The shouting, singing and music continued through the night as the MacTavish’s and the Stavros’s joined the Henderson’s in their back garden and celebrated the New Year international style.
I never got to find out where that moth ended! Must have flown away by a sudden gust of Southerly wind.