View Full Version : A seed. A tree. A branch. A ripple.

Alex Laker
8th May 2012, 21:58
Today, while casually paying some bills in the post office, I saw the profound in the mundane. To get your place in the queue, you must take a ticket with a number on it and wait. Like all Brits, I know the benefits of a good queue (but that's not the point).

Anyway, my number was 204, however upon placing the ticket in my pocket, I became convinced it was 206. So I waited for them to call this number, and by extension myself to a desk.

When the counter on the screen was at 204, I decided to check my ticket, to make sure my number was as I thought. Turns out I was 204, and at the moment I realised, the desk I had been called to (G) called the real 206, (205 was already called to another desk). Basically, I just quietly cursed and went and got another ticket.

So yeah, mundane everyday real life, but I couldn't help but wonder afterwards, how has this seemingly neutral, innocuous miscalculation on my part, of which this man has no idea going to affect the path his life takes from there on in. Heck, the man has no idea I even exist, yet we were synchronised for a brief time in anticipation of one number.

Of course, usually when we cause something to happen to someone, they will know that our actions were the cause, and this causes them to take notice that an event has actually happened. Effects require cause, at least in this level of existence.

But this man has no idea that he was never supposed to go desk G. That was not his destiny. If not for my intervention, he would have gone to another, and interacted with a different person - and then, bang the life of person he interacts with is changed on account of my miscalculation. To what extent?

That simple mistake of which no-one knew except me changed the course history... did it?

How do events unfold and amplify when free will is taken into account? We talk about the butterflies and hurricanes in Texas in nature, but what about on a human level?

Does the fact that we pre-plan our days and have routines mean that little fluctuations such as this are cancelled out, as long as we reach our end goal for the day? Does the power of foresight grant us power over our own destiny, or is it determined by the actions of those around us? Is it determined at all?

So at desk G, perhaps the attendant makes a miscalculation, and holds the man up. Because he gets held up, he ends up bumping into an old friend, and they decide to go for drinks. Already, my actions are drastically amplified into having a significant effect on this man's life.

But what of the attendant? She still has 3 hours at the office, and so perhaps she is less susceptible to changes in her 'plan'. Ripples fade over time. And so of course, the more our circumstances change in a period of time and the more we make new ripples, the more unpredictable the pattern comes, and the less control we have over our destiny.

What if by trying to create our futures, we create their uncertainty? Indeed, I think we can all rest assured that if you don't create ripples in your own life, other people certainly do.

If in fact something so small and mundane as what happened in the post office can itself create many onward ripples, each of them creating more ripples, and each of those ripples creating yet more ripples, then do we really have destiny. Alternatively, are these ripples just course corrections, putting is back on the right path to our destiny?

What do you think?

(Image belongs to Ian Badley (http://www.ianbadley.com/))