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The Butterfly Effect

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It is often said that the things you come to appreciate and value the most are the things that you stumble upon accidentally, the things that you would have never noticed had it not been for one chance encounter, one simple glance, one moment that you strayed off the worn and beaten path. After a while, you begin to wonder how your life would have been different if you never met that person, or walked down that sidewalk, or picked up that phone. I begin to ask myself the inevitable series of questions that comes after that sudden realization. What if I had never gone to that birthday party? What if I had never said yes? What if I had never gone back?Eventually, you come to cherish these moments, these people, with all your heart. You never want them to leave you, you never want to imagine a life without them, and you can never bring yourself to forget them. The best opportunities only come once in a lifetime, and once you have them, you should never let them go, no matter what sacrifices must be made.

I used to be a very shy and quiet kid. You would seldom find me without a book in my hands, and it was rather difficult to get me to interact with other kids. I never did well in group projects, and I broke down when I got stuck with someone I didn’t know. Over the years, I developed a shell around myself that closed me off from the rest of the world, a shell that only I could truly understand, a shell that only my true best friends could ever break. One of these best friends decided to invite me to a birthday part that she was throwing at a local Laser-X. I agreed to go, and unknowingly signed away what could have been my life.

The birthday part was truly a wonderful experience, even though I lost most of the rounds of laser tag. But the defining moment of the entire party was the challenge at the Dance-Dance Revolution game. I had watched two girl face each other, both doing pretty well. Better than anything I could do, I thought. As their song ended, the taller of the two stepped down. The other girl asked if anybody wanted to face her.

Here’s my chance! I spoke up, “I’ll play against you.”

She nodded and smiled at me, brushing her curly brunette hair out of her face, “Okay, you want to pick the song?”

When the song was over, we both eagerly awaited for the scores to appear on the screen. When they did, I was in shock. A girl had beaten me. Oh man, this is terrible I thought. I sucked up what little pride I had left, and I offered her a high five, as I said, “Good game.”

She looked at me, quizzically at first. Then she saw my hand. “Yeah, good game.” She high fived me back, without halting to glare at me with spiteful eyes, like so many other girls had done to me before.

The shell splintered ever so slightly.

Secretly, I had hoped that I would see her again, even though all the odds told me that I wouldn’t. I didn’t even know her name. But Fate bet against those odds, and we met each other again at our freshmen orientation.

After many boring speeches given by school officials and class representatives alike, the orientation wound to a close. I found myself impatiently wandering around the parking lot, looking for my mom’s bright red van.

Disappointed and bored, I ventured back into the school to wait for her inside.

That’s when I saw the girl again. She had just stepped out of the auditorium, and was making her way towards the door, her brother in tow. Instantly, I recognized her brother. From the look in his eyes, he recognized me as well. I approached them, and nervously acknowledge the girl, “Hi, I remember you from that birthday party.”

“Yeah, I played against you in DDR.” She sounded nervous as well, but still a smile spread across her face. We talked for a little while longer, and I managed to learn her name, as well as her email address. As they left, I repeated her name over and over again in my head.

The shell had begun to crack.

During the first few weeks of school, we would sometimes run into each other in the pale white hallways of the freshman academy. We would talk for a little while, and then go about our day. It seemed that we were destined to be friends, and little more than that. . .

But Fate was relentless, and it offered up another choice, another chance.

Kelli and her brother invited me over to their house a couple of days later, and for the first time in my life, I truly felt in love. Even though all we did was play video games and watch television, I felt like myself around someone. For that moment, the shell had been cracked open.

Before I knew it, I found myself sheepishly asking her if she would be my girlfriend. I was so nervous, I was shaking as I asked her. But when she said yes, my whole world was turned upside-down, and I knew from that point on, that nothing would ever be the same again.

The shell had shattered, the pieces scattering far and wide.

As I’m looking back at everything that has transpired over the past three years, all the memories flood my mind, and pure joy washes over me. Even as I struggle to put my thoughts onto paper, the memories stand out like red paint on the canvas of life. Our first date at the Johnny Appleseed festival, and how we tried to hide the fact that we were holding hands. Our first accidental kiss as we left school for the weekend, that left us both excited and scared. Our first real kiss on her back porch, that left us both blushing and giddy. The many after-school Fridays that we have shared watching movies, playing video games, and talking. The numerous nights we lost ourselves in conversation until two in the morning. The few moments that it seemed our flame would go out, and the moments where we talked out our problems and rekindled the dying fire. So many pivotal moments, where one simple change, one chance happening could have changed everything, for better or worse.

I have always been a believer in Fate, and even now I believe that things happen to us that we have no power to change. But when Fate gives you the moment of chance, you have to choose to take hold of your fate. Simply relying on chance alone holds no guarantee that you will find what you seek. Harry Browne once said, “You are where you are today because you have chosen to be there.” At the end, that is what it comes down to. You have the power to choose to accept or decline the perfect opportunities that Fate drops right in front of you. For your sake, I hope you choose correctly.




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