butterfly effect

On fate and love

I’ve played two games that have discussed the butterfly effect and it’s gotten me quite interested in the topic. It’s led me to the question of fate and freewill, the law of attraction, and of love. I’m sure you all have questioned at least once – or if not, this will probably be the first – in your life whether the universe already has fate set for you or whether we reap what we sow because of free will.

Fate vs. Free will

fate /fāt/
noun
1.
the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power
verb
  1. be destined to happen, turn out, or act in a particular way.

A lot of people seem to believe in fate and destiny, that the moment they were born, everything that they have experienced has all been a part of a higher being’s plan; much like reading a book they’ve written for us while we uncover its secrets. Each choice we make is already predestined; that everything that happens is just supposed to because of the universe, a higher being, or some other third thing. Do you agree? Many people don’t, because they find that leaving everything up to fate could mean that you don’t try hard enough, your own determination to want things isn’t fully acted upon because it’s possible that “if it’s meant to be, it will be“.

free will
noun
  1. the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.
adjective
  1. (especially of a donation) given readily; voluntary

“I made it happen for myself.” 

That sentence is something a lot of people would proudly say and would want to say. That it wasn’t fate or destiny, it wasn’t any god, or the universe that made something happen, it was all you. Some people don’t like to believe in fate because they think it takes away a lot of the credit you owe to yourself; you make the decisions, you suffer/triumph/struggle and emerge as another version of you because you led yourself there. It could truly be the notion that we make our own story, or it could be the illusion of control we have over this life of ours that deep down, we know we have no complete control over.

Imagine yourself achieving your vision of success: is it because of fate or free will? In life, there are those that work hard yet have less than those that barely did anything. If you read Jon Negroni’s take on the Disney film “High School Musical” or if you are currently experiencing what I am describing, then you have a clear idea of what this is like. Life doesn’t seem fair in this respect, why do those “less deserving” get awarded than those actually working hard?

“That’s just life. You aren’t trying hard enough. There’s nothing fair about this world. You’re too serious. Your best wasn’t enough. They got lucky.” How do you explain that? Why?

From playing countless visual novels, simulations, and multiple ending type of games, I’ve learned that fate and free will go hand-in-hand. We are free to choose, but we cannot control any external factors. You make the choice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be rewarded. Simply put, we control our own fate by the choices we make, and even in the small things we do, it can affect something else in the grander scheme of things.

The Butterfly Effect

The butterfly effect is a term coined by Edward Lorenz, a mathematician and meteorologist that proposed how even the slightest change now could change something grand later. We see examples of this happen in movies such as Jurassic Park, Meet The Robinsons, and even in Phineas and Ferb.

Lorenz suggested how a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico could later cause a hurricane in China. It seems strange, but had the butterfly not flapped its wings at a specific moment in a specific place, the hurricane would not have formed. This kind of unforeseeable event is classified under the chaos theory which explains the unpredictability of events, weather, and the like which we have no power to control. It’s something that has too many external factors we cannot foresee to properly measure, how what will happen in the future depends on initial conditions.

If you might have noticed around now, sometimes people bump into you, which cause you to drop certain things or bump into precious objects. clnadrian’s post on Conscious Life News perfectly encapsulates how one small thing can snowball into something much bigger:

You are walking down the crowded streets of New York City drinking your morning coffee. By accident someone bumps into you and this causes you to spill your hot coffee onto a stranger standing to your left. You apologize, but this man has become extremely angry. As you walk away, this man gets a call from his girlfriend, but because he is upset, this causes the two to get into a phone fight, ultimately leading to their breakup.

After their breakup, the man moves out of his apartment back home, the girlfriend moves to California.  Just think for a moment: The small act of someone bumping into you on the street, has snowballed into life changing actions and consequences for complete strangers you do not even know.

Notice that people’s choices were affected by such a small occurrence which started from a small bump. Nobody could control any of the events happening in that first paragraph, but you see how their actions were formed after those specific events. They all made choices of their own volition but no one chose to bump into anyone, spill coffee, or be angry for no reason in this context. Is it fate? You can question all the what ifs and wonder how else everything would have panned out in alternate realities, but this is now the unchangeable “fate” that we got.

When it comes to random (or is it really random?) things that happen and ultimately influence your decision over things, I’m not so sure I can call it fate, because we should be able to actually justify why we make choices and why it makes sense, so it’s not fate dictating your choices. I still believe that we make our own fate, but – although I don’t know if it’s premature to say this – shit happens. Something we’ve established is that our decisions aren’t made independent of influences. Notice that neither the boy or the girl decide to take back their word, because it’s still a choice to get back together considering the fact that it’s not fast and easy for someone to pack their bags. Even if they talked it over, they both still found enough reason to permanently let that ship sail.




 

Effort vs. No effort

This post seems to be following another kind of theme other than fate/free will and also the butterfly effect made me wonder about those that work hard, and those that don’t, or simply put in effort vs. less/no effort.

A good friend introduced me to the concept of the law of attraction, where essentially what you want will just come to you, much like how positive charges attract more positive charges, and negative charges attract more negative charges. I believe in the variation of the term, because I know what you believe is what is true to you, so if you believe in the supernatural, then it will be real to you, even if it isn’t for other people.

From this site I came across, it claims that the law of attraction requires no effort whatsoever, and from the description itself, wanting something isn’t exactly so tiring but it also is trying to dispel the notion that we only get what we want through hard work. If we want something, we “force” the universe to give it to us, which made me question how that could really be applied just from manipulating the “vibes of the universe” or attracting other like charges, if that makes sense.

 

It reminded me a lot about this photo that a friend sent me a couple of years ago. There are people that work hard to have someone to fall in love with them, and there are people that do absolutely nothing to have someone fall to their knees. In the same scenario, it takes a lot of effort to get someone to fall for someone else–which we know as chasing someone–and also nothing to have the sudden overwhelming feeling of desire towards another person. It makes me wonder: Isn’t it strange? Should romantic love be so arduous? I understand that there are a thousand external factors, but does one have to be shown for a period of time why it’s a good idea to love this certain person? Who’s to say they won’t be overcome with desire for someone else in the process, even if the other person only learns to fall later on? I’m not saying this is a universal truth for everyone, but it’s just something to think about: There are people that effortlessly fall, and there are people that fall only after days, months, or years. It’s not a question of whether someone’s love is real or not because it is abstract and subjective, but is wanting truly enough? Because many people will tell you how it isn’t.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (2008), he mentions how in studies, they find how talent and hard work don’t make what people would call success; a lot of it is because of an individual’s opportunities. He breaks down success stories: he doesn’t ask what successful people were like, he looks into where they came from. I don’t know if you could call it fate how you are born into a wealthy family, able to provide for you any instrument you need to hone your skills with more ease as opposed to a more financially challenged one. Not only that, but also the number of connections you have that help you get even further. If we relate that with love, you realize how other people just have better opportunities to really get to know somebody.

Opportunity / Timing

Let me disclaim first and foremost that opportunities do not guarantee a reward. Just like what I explained earlier, you are given a chance but it doesn’t always mean you get the shot. A good example of this is when a girl who has been out of a relationship for a couple of months wants to date again, and she meets someone new, but finds that they are already in a committed, monogamous relationship.

In this respect, we see how the girl is already looking for someone so it seems that anyone she finds interesting and/or attractive could be a possible mate, but on the other hand, (let’s assume the person she met is a guy) the guy isn’t looking because he already has someone. Even if this guy was single, if he wasn’t looking for anyone, he wouldn’t be quick to say “maybe this girl is the one“. Again, there are tons of factors to consider, such as his sexual preference, – we don’t know if his partner is a man – his willingness to date again, and the list goes on. This inevitably falls back to timing. If you believe in fate, who knows he actually could be the one, it’s just that he has to go through another break up, but your priorities change in that length of time. As if we would truly know who we are meant for because it’s a vast world with literally millions of possible mates and also millions of seconds spent learning and forgetting things that ultimately affect who we are as persons. We might be meant for someone at a certain point in time, but with each second you spend, you take in more information, experiences, and influences that shape your personality and your priorities that could change “the one”.

All too often, we find how love stories start with one person liking the other first. Person A likes Person B while Person B doesn’t necessarily do anything, so Person A has to do something to get Person B to see them in the same light. A lot of factors such as their current relationship with Person B matters, if they are already friends or not, because strangers have a harder time finding opportunities to get to know the other due to the fact that they aren’t always around each other. Then we get to compatibility, preference, timing, and so many other external factors. When we like someone and we find out what they like in a romantic partner, we find ourselves either consciously or unconsciously melting to better fit ourselves into the shape they like whether or not we are already happy and secure with who we are.

The law of attraction is said to work for everyone, but even those that think they are worth love and truly want something don’t find it. I disagree that effort falls short in this aspect, because a relationship is mutual giving and receiving, however in reference to the photo, it is possible that effort won’t matter because of other factors, much like how some people get surprise confessions from their friends. Although these people have the opportunity to go for a good friend, they won’t find any fruits unless that friend is also looking.

You can’t force anyone to feel any certain way, though some people can manipulate these things (which is definitely not the route you want to take unless you like challenges or you’re probably just that selfish that you can’t take no for an answer – either way it usually (not always!) does not end well) and there is no secret to a real love. Love is immeasurable and comes out in the weirdest forms. Alain de Botton’s On Love mentions how it is possible that people fall in love to run away from their issues and to focus on someone else, and how people find qualities in other people that they don’t have and want to attain. Usually, when you feel whole, you don’t really look for a relationship. I guess you can say the “strong, independent man/woman” memes are partly true. In his book, he mentions how Albert Camus suggests that people fall for those that outwardly seem secure and put together, how we love when we feel something lacking within.

There are friends of yours that have been around you for years and understand you better than anyone can, and yet you look the other way. I’m sure after reading that, you already have an answer as to why, or are you second guessing yourself? Like what Alain de Botton thinks, maybe it’s possible you’re looking for something else that familiar people don’t have, which isn’t a bad thing. We’re all going through a constant trial-and-error learning process with every breath we breathe.

One thing I’ve learned for sure is that at some point in time we have to unlearn what we all grew up learning, which is how our efforts don’t always pay off. As mentioned in Jon Negroni’s article and how media these days portray how we think things work, it seems that trying is enough to guarantee a reward, which most probably explains why many people complain about not getting anything out of something they put effort into. It’s an easy philosophy because you expect both parties–but more importantly you–to benefit, but when you’re in the perspective of the disinterested, you owe nothing to another person’s effort, because you never had any stake on the outcome in the first place. But don’t take this as me discouraging you from trying, because trying is going outside of your comfort zone, ultimately opening new doors. There’s no way you can experience any thrills if you decide to stay in one place. I’m just hoping what you associate with “thrills” are all still under the law, but you gotta put in effort every once in a while. Nothing beats the feeling of actually having your efforts rewarded, you just gotta keep going ’til you find it! Hope you get to shape your fate in the best way you can!

Thanks for reading!


Sources : Technologyreview, Stsci.edu, Conscious Life News, Fractal Foundation, Success on Consciousness, On Love by Alain de Botton (excerpts), Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Discover Magazine, Jon Negroni and I’d like to thank my friend Steph


 

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