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Magnitude and Chaos

I was inspired to write this post quite a while ago. Something totally unrelated I read gave me a tiny spark of inspiration, building up inside me for weeks, being pushed off by my conscious mind in favor of more urgent matters, until the sheer pressure forced me to let loose an avalanche of ideas I was barely aware of. Strange quirks of my creativity, I guess. I get the feeling sometimes that I have a team of gnomes working on all the ideas inside my head… I can’t explain where else these fully formed thoughts come from, just popping up in my head from one moment to the next.

Anyway, back to today’s topic, Magnitude.

Magnitude is the scale at which something resides. In the context of today’s post, that something can be an idea, an act, a thing, a thought, or anything else that interacts with other people.

I think it’s important to realise that order of magnitude is irrelevant. There are no small actions or large actions, there are just actions. Nothing is insignificant – there is no such thing. Whenever people affect each other, chain reactions will start happening, expanding continuously into the infinite. The pebble you’re putting out into the world today might just be the one that changes the course of an avalanche. This is the basis of what I’m saying here – the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings.

We don’t see this plainly in our day to day activities because the world, this oozy and ill-defined mass of matter, energy, awareness, is not a thread but a multidimensional fabric. There are a lot of factors at work simultaneously, which lead us to the chaotic mess that we see every day. You, me, all of us have an impact around us, a field of magnetic influence if you will, and its effects will spread far and wide until they blend right into the mix, being bent in strange directions and formed into bizarre shapes in the process.

The variables in play are innumerable, and so entangled that we could not possibly understand them fully (it’s a bit like that weather thing). Even the simplest things can cause lasting effects that stick around inexplicably:

-A childhood memory popping up, for no reason at all.

-A smile, given away for free, finding it’s way back to you – or not.

-The sweet scent of a flower, a butterfly trampled on (or a sound of thunder, perhaps)

-A blog post of mine, or one of yours, being read years, decades, centuries, millennia from now.

So, what does this mean for us? It means that we are causing a lot of things to happen, all the time, whether we want it or not. This is what gives us our infinite potential of creation, what makes us able shape the world around us in part – as one of many factors that define existence. It means that the responsibility is ours to reflect what we want from the world, first and foremost within ourselves, and let that influence spread out through all of our actions, big or small.

  1. December 10, 2007 at 1:13 am

    Wow!!! What a fantastic article. I am in a chaotic mess of my own right now. I don’t know the direction that it will take me and I trust that everything will be ok.

  2. December 10, 2007 at 7:52 am


    Chaos can be fun, and beautiful. Keep that in mind as you navigate through whatever situation you’re in right now, and I’m sure you’ll come out in the exact right spot.

  3. elisabeth
    January 8, 2008 at 5:04 am

    I totally agree with Patricia and Vitor . But what about when the chaos last too long and you are waiting for an answer to lift the chaos. You are waiting in exitement with your entire body but you know it is not time yet. Your hard is beating fast and you know you should slow down, but how? So, chaos is not fun anymore.

  4. elisabeth
    January 8, 2008 at 5:58 am

    I’m very interested in your answer allthough I think I know it. But in writing down my feelings and worries I felt a great relief afterwards.

  5. January 10, 2008 at 3:33 am

    came here through the compassion project, in which we both participated.

    delighted to find another person who is interested in chaos and fractals!

  6. January 10, 2008 at 5:36 pm


    You hit on an important point there, communication is often directed to ourselves as much as towards others. If you can feel the answer within you, then just go with it and see where it leads. That IS the fun of chaos.

    Sorry for answering late, have just been very busy šŸ˜‰


    That’s the power of the internet! Taking a look at your site right now.

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