Something To Think About: Birthdays And Butterflies

Screen shot 2014-03-14 at 9.47.40 AMMy Mom turned 75-years-old last month, and we celebrated with her by having all the family get together for a dinner in Valdosta. Near the end of the night, it came time to cut the cake and sing. Our table was in a back room and stretched across one entire wall. The rest of the room, some probably fifty or so people, was a college hockey team from Chicago.
When it came time to sing, my daughter Kelli Greene, the shy, quiet introvert like her father, announced to the entire room that we were celebrating the 75th birthday of our Matriarch, and introduced my Mom to the crowd, stating that she was responsible for the other twenty three people sitting at the table.
“Her name is Mary Ellen Greene,” Kelli told them, “but that’s Mrs. Greene or Grandma to you.”
The following rendition of Happy Birthday sung by the Greene clan and fifty-something hockey players and coaches got everyone’s attention in the entire restaurant, count on it. The night ended with my Mom standing up and thanking the team, and us giving them a little over half of a cake that was not eaten.
No, devoted reader, you know that is not the end of it. I would not tell this tale simply for the telling of the tale. I have a moral in everything.
Those guys traveled a thousand odd miles and became part of a celebration for someone they had never even known existed. Contrarily, they were treated with a good hefty dose of Southern hospitality and good cheer.
There exists a theory called the Butterfly Effect. It says that everything we do has an effect far out from us. It is called the Butterfly Effect because the example used to explain it is that a butterfly flapping its wings causes changes in air flow and current, even so slightly. These changes combine with others and effect weather, which affects us all. Thus everything we do has an outward effect like ripples in a pond.
Now I’m not saying that these hockey players from Chicago will long cherish that night and tell their grandchildren about the experience. Or that it will alter the course of their lives and the lives of everyone with whom they come into contact. And I am sure that the primary thing they think they garnished from that evening was a story about some hick family in South Georgia, and how we say, “Grand-MAW” and “Thank y’all.” But something that night told me that this was a good thing that was happening. What if one of them was having a bad day, or was worried about something, or maybe even simply felt better from some hick family singing Happy Birthday, or being given a piece of birthday cake from someone they never even knew.
What about you? What if that person in the line in front of you in the grocery store is having a bad day when you smile at them? Or perhaps the person behind you, when you let them go first? Or maybe the homeless person who eats tonight because of the dollar you tossed in the Salvation Army bucket last week?
Contrarily how about that person you cut off driving, who then gets to work in a bad mood and yells at their coworker, then that person storms out to lunch mad and isn’t paying attention when they pull their car out into oncoming traffic.
I have said it before, and I will say it again. Every single thing you do affects other people. In some way, large or small, you are an influence in the lives of thousands of other people.  You get to choose if you are a positive or negative influence in the lives of others, but you will be an influence.
Will your butterfly effect be a good one, or a bad one?
Think about it.

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