Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chaos theory, the butterfly effect, and comfort

I am sitting quietly this morning on this corner of the couch as one of the few spaces not currently being occupied by laundry or some other object belonging to 1 of 5 children. I only say quietly because I am sick and the others shlept off to church. It's funny how disruptive 1 parent being under the weather changes the entire dynamic of what occurs inside the home, especially over a weekend.

It's a bit like the butterfly effect, made famous in 1972 by Edward Lorenz in a paper titled "Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?" In other words, do small changes in initial conditions of a system, in this case our household dynamics and me being sick, cause a chain of events leading to large scale phenomena? For the most part I spent the day yesterday holed up in bed, another location void of other people's stuff encroaching into my space, although I am only applying that to my half of the bed. Upon emerging from the cave this morning and attempting to locate a spot to sit upright in, I couldn't help but think of this butterfly effect and chaos theory. I know, call me weird, but it's just what I do sometimes. I have to try and justify all of those years in school and teaching Physics somehow, right?

Initially I am always totally frustrated by this chaos as I truly believe in being good stewards of what God has provided and being slovenly is not that in my system view. However, as I used to point out in discussions with my students around this theory there are often strange attractors in nature and after enough time what looked chaotic and random at first, begins to look like a beautiful pattern. This too is applicable to our household system as the kids know we have an unswerving faith in Jesus as our savior, they are comfortable in their own skin in this system (which is critical for our 2 adopted), and they know love will always be given, even in the midst of the chaos. So while I am sitting here bemoaning the state of affairs (as it relates to clutter) I know the attractors that are key to our household system will at some point reveal the overall pattern again of a picked up and functional home. Given that I am feeling a bit better today I am guessing that will be by tonight!

For now though I am going to sit quietly with a cup of coffee on this corner of the couch.
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