February 18, 2011

Catching Fireflies

I'm a big fan of the television show, Fringe. Read no further if you're a fan and haven't watched the January 21 episode.

One of the themes of the show that evening was how changing even one small event could set off a chain reaction that would affect people you've never met. Something so simple as catching a firefly when you weren't supposed to could cause someone's death in another location. How? Because that firefly never flew down the street and wasn't there for a little girl to catch, causing her to continue looking for fireflies long after she should have been home. Her father became worried, and went in search of her in his car, eventually hitting and killing an innocent pedestrian. And all this happened because you caught a firefly you weren't supposed to catch.

Every day we make decisions that lead us in one direction or another, and often we wonder... What if I had taken the other path? What if I turned left instead of right? What if? What if?

Making one choice changes not only our lives, but the lives of so many others, people we don't even know and likely will never meet. It's mind-boggling.

Last week I caught a firefly. I made what I thought was a simple blog post on a whim, and thought it would be like any other; a few of my friends and my mom would read it, maybe a couple of strangers from my Twitterverse. But within eighteen hours of posting it, something happened. It was forwarded to friends of friends and parties were formed. People decided to change what they were doing on February 13 and possibly February 14, based on something I did without much thought. It amazed me. I don't know if I was supposed to catch that firefly last week, but it seems so to me. I haven't heard of any bad that has come from it, but I have thought about what if I hadn't posted it. How many people wouldn't have gotten together with friends that weekend and laughed?

Sometimes we're supposed to catch the firefly and sometimes not. There is no way to know which is the right decision, we simply have to follow our instincts and know that what we're doing is right. Today all I know is that I'm glad I caught that firefly last week. I'm glad I posted a crazy little nothing about St. Upid on whim.

55 comments:

  1. What an excellent post. I have made some choices that I have not been proud this week and this post reminds to take a step back and see who I have touched. Thanks Christy.

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  2. @Pretty Girl, thank you! I think we all have weeks like that. I have to remind myself to do that too sometimes. Isn't it amazing how our choices ripple out in good and bad ways? Hopefully we send out more good ripples overall. I hope the coming week is a much better one for you! :-)

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  3. This is a really great post! Like @Pretty Girl, I haven't had a week to be proud of either. I think I needed the reminder to step back and look to see who I'm affecting. Thanks, @Christy!

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  4. @Pretty Girl and Alexia:
    Very brave post by you two. :-)

    I think when I'm having a bad week and I KNOW it's my fault, that's a step in the right direction. Knowing I was the one that screwed up gives me the control to fix it. Or, at least, try to. Although, some of my screw-ups are beyond fixing. I just have to ride the wave and wait for whatever I did to fix itself. And it always does.

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  5. Wow, Christy! Loves it!

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  6. @Christy I like the ripples concept too. Fireflies and ripples. Every decision, action, word we speak, move we make, etc. affects so many people. I never thought about all the people I'll never meet that I'm affecting by what I do and say. It's kind of mind blowing when you stop and think about it for too long. For example, yesterday I was shopping and bought the last of an item. What is going to happen to someone else because I bought the last of that item? Would they have bought it there and gone on their way with life? Are they going to go to another store now and will their life change? I thought about your post when I took it off the shelf and it stayed with me the rest of the day. I just had to make a comment about it today.

    I like this post a lot.

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  7. I have lived for 43 years wondering about a ripple made on Friday, December 6, 1968. It wasn't a firefly, but a doctors appointment. What if we had waited instead of trying to force nature, would it have changed things? I always thought so and have lived with the end result.

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  8. Caught a firefly when I was a kid. Now I'm scared!

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  9. @Hooka:
    Don't be frightened! LOL! I caught a few in my time, but I let 'em go and all's right with the world. For now...(cue spooky, doomsday music...)

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  10. @Steven64: I put mine in a jar. That can't be good. What am I going to do? (spooky, doomsday music changes slightly, softens, and intensifies ever so subtly).

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  11. @Steven64 and Hooka Looka! LOL! Funny!

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  12. @Anonymous, that's a long time to live with a ripple. I'm very sorry. We can't change things, but like @Christy said, that doesn't stop us from wondering what if. Sometimes it's best to let it go and stop wondering though. It doesn't do any good, and often will drive you crazy. I don't know what your event was, but it had to be something big.

    I'm saying a prayer for you tonight. :-)

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  13. @Anonymous:
    I'm with @Sara. Sometimes (most of the time?) letting go is really hard. We get comfortable with the thoughts and feelings after we've had them for such a long time. They're like a weird security blanket. But they keep us from moving on. One of my bestest friends in the whole wide world told me something years ago: she said she tries not to dwell on the "woulda-couldas". I thought that was really good advice. Your woulda-coulda sounds huge, but you owe it to yourself and those who care about you to try very, very hard to let it go. And, again like Sara, my prayers are with you too.

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  14. @Nanny:
    Oops! Meant to say thanks! ;-)

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  15. @Anonymous, I'm so so sorry, and I think @Sara and @Steven64 are right. I'm saying a prayer for you too.

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  16. Y'know, I found myself mulling early this morning. (Like, wake-up-and-stare-at-the-ceiling-in-the-dark early!) I was thinking how often we ponder the negative consequences of random acts in our lives. But the opposite has to be true, too. How often have we bought the last item on the shelf or caught a firefly, and something good happened as a result? I wonder if I've ever smiled at a stranger and it moved them to do something nice later that day that they wouldn't ordinarily have done? What if I decided at the last minute not to go out with friends one evening and, as a result, I was available to chat on the phone with a friend and they decided not to quit their job?

    I guess I'm just saying that "the butterfly effect" doesn't always have to be something bad.

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  17. @Steven64..you are right it can be both. After this weekend I found what the "good" effects were after a visit I made to a dying friend and we talked about the things they had done in their life and the choices they had made. It sort of puts your life into balance when you are facing the death of a close friend.

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  18. @pretty girl:
    I'm sorry to hear about your friend, but I'm glad you had the opportunity to talk, really talk.

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  19. @pretty girl, I am so sorry about your friend, but like @Steven, I'm very glad you had the chance to really talk. We never realize how precious time is until we're faced with how little we have left with someone. I'm happy you had the opportunity to spend time together.

    @Steven, thanks for pointing out the good in the "butterfly/firefly effect" because that was what I hoped to get across in my original post. We make simple decisions on a whim every day that can affect so many. For example, something as simple as receiving a really great text from someone first thing in the morning when you're getting ready to leave to have your car repaired, can change your mood for the better. Because your mood is better, the repairman's mood is better. Later in the day, someone else is in a good mood because the repairman was in a good mood, and it goes on. All because of one wonderful text sent to you early in the morning.

    I often think about the paths I've taken and the lives I've affected by taking those paths. People I know would be different right now if I had chosen an alternate route, because they never would have met me. I would be different because I never would have met them. @Steven is a great example. We met at a friend's birthday party 13 years ago because he sat in an empty seat next to me. What if he had decided to sit in one of the empty seats further down the table? He wouldn't be posting on my blog today because we never would have met and connected. Simply choosing the right seat 13 years ago led us to where we are today. I'm very grateful he chose the empty seat next to me. :-)

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  20. @Christy I think about the good and bad affects of my actions, words, and what I post on blogs all the time. It is amazing how my good or bad mood can affect those around me, who then go on to affect other people in their day. I have to keep in mind that I'm not living in a bubble. It's easy to forget, especially when we're dealing with things like blogs or forums online. People are faceless and sometimes nameless. But you know what? They are still people who have moods. And if I say something positive or negative, it can affect their mood. What if I write something ugly, and someone reads it then yells at her daughter because I put her in a bad mood? Shame on me. But what if I write something positive and someone reads it and then tells her daughter how much she loves her? Yay! We touch a lot of people we don't know now. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying to remind myself to be more positive and send out positive vibes.

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  21. @Denise:
    What you said is kinda how I try to live life in general (with varying degrees of success). Sort of The Golden Rule, but more...generalized. I just try to say or do something nice or good in every situation I'm in: driving (let someone cut in front of me), in the grocery store (smile at the checker), nodding at a neighbor that I don't know. It's just so incredibly easy to be civil and even friendly, and you never know what effect it's going to have on someone, although it's almost guaranteed not to be negative. (I suddenly feel curiously warm and fuzzy. lol!)

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  22. This is really nice @Christy! I like what everyone had to say. @Steven64 I try to live that way too. Give someone a smile, give them a break, give a little wave. It doesn't take much. It's what I'd want people to do for me.

    I've been sick for a few days, and a lady I work with made the effort to stop by my house and check on me. She brought me some homemade soup and flowers. She didn't have to, but sure did make my day and brighten things for me. I don't know her all that well, so it was a big surprise. She got my address from a friend who sits next to me in my cubicle. She made a decision to do something and now I want to do something nice for someone. It just goes on.

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  23. @Tammy, I'm sorry to hear you've been sick, but really glad you're back! Hope you're feeling much better. :-) That was very nice of the woman you work with to bring soup and flowers. Some people are so thoughtful.

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  24. @Tammy..sorry you were sick and glad you are feeling better. It's like the movie Pay it forward. You have a wonderful co-worker that was thoughtful and caring.

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  25. @Steven64: Now I feel all warm and fuzzy. This can't be good for a guy. Must remain tough and macho.

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  26. @Hooka, it's good to be in touch with your warm and fuzzy feminine side. Embrace it!

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  27. @Christy: I feel pretty, oh so pretty...

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  28. @Christy I didn't know you had a blog too! I clicked on your photo over on @Steven's site and saw it. Wish I had known sooner, I would have followed you sooner. I'm here now and looking forward to reading all your past posts.

    @Christy and @Hooka Looka you two are funny!

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  29. @Michelle, welcome to my blog! Nice to have you here. I'm looking forward to hearing more from you.

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  30. Thanks @Christy and @pretty girl! I do have a nice coworker and it is like paying it forward.

    @Hooka Looka LOL! You're so funny!

    @Steven64 where are you? LOL!

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  31. @pretty girl and Tammy:
    I thought of Pay It Forward too! I usually think of it as karma, also. Do unto others, even if it's just a wink and a smile.

    @Hooka:
    How 'bout them Packers? HUNH! HUNH!

    @Tammy:
    I'm still here! I'm still here! LOL! Just got busy for a couple days. Glad you're feeling better. :-)

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  32. @Steven64 thanks and it's good to know you're still around. :-)

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  33. @Steven64: (clears throat, and lowers voice) How 'bout them Packers? (drinks his beer, lights his cigar, spits, then leans back)

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  34. @Hooka:
    LMAO! (belches and scratches his...well, just scratches)

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  35. Gentlemen, feel free to drink your beer, lean back, and I suppose if you have to, scratch your... um, scratch. But let's keep the cigars, spitting, belching, etc. out of the freshly scrubbed room. It smells like lavender in here. Breathe deeply and enjoy.

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  36. @Christy - Boys will be boys, but I'd prefer it if the lovely lavender fragrance could stay. Of course I also want the boys to stay. ;-)

    We do love @Steven64, and I'm sure @Hooka Looka is a good guy too. Maybe we could let them belch and then spray lavender air freshener quickly, but the cigars are definitely out. Sorry boys.

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  37. @Jane, LOL! I want the boys to stay too. OK, we'll let them belch and give them lavender air freshener.

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  38. {urp!} Chicks, gotta love 'em. {hurk!} Now where's dinner? I'm starving!

    (kidding!)

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  39. In the fridge..when is it going to be ready?? LOL!!

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  40. @Amanda:
    LMAO!! No, no, I meant you were supposed to...um. Oh hell, I need another beer.

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  41. @Steven..and don't forgot the wine for the ladies. You men forget to take care of us sometimes :-)

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  42. @Steven we all know you know how to cook. Get in that kitchen and whip up something good. And @Amanda's right. Don't forget the wine. :)

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  43. @Christy I've been thinking about your post a lot and there was a story my dad told me during a recent visit. He was talking about regrets and things he wished he could do over. One of the things was returning a library book. He checked it out when he was 13 and forgot to return it. So it sat on his desk in his bedroom for a month after it was due. A friend of his (not a close friend) needed that book for school, but didn't know my dad had it. Since it wasn't at their local library, the kid rode his bike to the next closest one across town. On the way home, he somehow fell off a bridge and died (dad was sketchy on the details). My dad found out why his friend was at that library across town and on that bridge and it's haunted him since. I always wondered why he was such a stickler for returning things, being prompt, never procrastinating, etc. Now I know.

    Sorry. That was a downer. I felt like I needed to share it.

    But here's a good one. A friend of mine found $10 blowing down the street a few months ago (I was with her and witnessed it). Instead of putting it in her purse, she gave it to someone who was walking past us. The lady actually cried. She was out of work and said $10 would really help.

    You're so right about everything we do affecting someone else, even people we don't know.

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  44. @Amanda:
    Good tip! Beer would probably be tacky. ;-P

    @Denise:
    Wow. Your dad's story was really... I don't wanna say 'good', but that was the first word that came to my mind. It's also interesting to find out why your dad is the way he is, at least about returning things, promptness, etc. My dad and I have spoken recently, on more than one occasion, about life and it's been interesting to hear him share his regrets (didn't fess up to nearly enough - lol!) and his triumphs. But as good as the "Dad Story" was, I like your friend giving the stranger that $10 more. :-)

    Oh, and I have a delish meal planned for Christy's visit. :-) (With a nice chardonnay.)

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  45. @Denise, thanks for sharing both stories. I'm constantly amazed at how seemingly small choices, like not returning a book on time, can affect us for the rest of our lives and shape who we are. It even shaped who you became as a person. The $10 story was great! Most of us would have thought, "Cool! Found money!" and spend it on something for ourselves. Your friend touched a stranger. That's amazing!

    @Steven, can't wait! :-)

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  46. I didn't know where to post this, so I picked here. :-) I like your photos. Very good! You have a good eye. You should include some bigger versions in your blog posts and write about where you took them. Just an idea.

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  47. Thanks, @Kerri! I did that in some of my very early posts. As the weather warms up and I get out and begin taking new photos, I may do it again. Thanks for suggesting it! :-)

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  48. @Christy I'd love to see more of your photos on your blog with a post about where they were taken, what your were thinking, why you took, etc. too! :)

    Just thought I'd add my vote.

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  49. @Christy...Today I found out a dear friend passed away yesterday afternoon. She had health problems for about 4 years now but was only about 5-6 years older than me. She went to the hospital for a simple procedure and while in recovery, her heart stopped.

    I had worked with her for many years but we were just co-workers, it was not until she started having health problems and had to be hospitalized that we became good friends. She had no close family in the area so I would go after work and visit with her at the hospital. When she was well enough her family moved her to a nursing home and I would visit her every week or so…but as the years went by the visits got farther and farther apart. I got caught up in my life and forgot about my friendship with her…now as I sit and write this I wonder what could I have done to be a better friend, what could I do in the future to be a better friend…today I am sad because I lost a friend.

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  50. @Susan, I am so very sorry to hear about your friend. You have my deepest condolences.

    I hope you don't dwell too much on what you could have done in more recent years for your friend, but instead think about how you were there for her when her family couldn't be. You did something amazing, and I'm sure it was appreciated.

    It's so easy for all of us to get caught up in the day-to-day busyness of our lives and let friendships slip. It happens all the time. All we can do is resolve to reconnect with those we've lost touch, and stay connected as best we can with those we are still in touch, and then make efforts to follow through. It's hard. I often realize that I blink and weeks or months have gone by since I last visited my grandma or talked to a friend. It seems like it should be so easy to stay close and in touch, but it isn't.

    All we can do is try our best to be better friends and family members. Sadly, sometimes it takes a loss to remind us of what we need to do. I know you're sad, but if it helps even a little, you've reminded me that I need to be a better friend and family member. You've helped me. Thank you.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time of loss.

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  51. @Christy..Thank you.

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  52. @Christy...On Saturday I attended the memorial for my dear friend who passed away on March 3rd. It was a small memorial, not attended by many people but by family and friends who really cared about her. Her sister and niece traveled from out of state to attend. It was beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. After the memorial we released balloons in her memory after we each wrote a note to her. I think my friend was smiling from heaven. Just wanted to share..

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  53. @Susan, that sounds like a beautiful memorial and tribute to your friend, and how perfect that the day was sunny and clear! I love the idea of writing notes to her on balloons and releasing them. I'm sure she was smiling from heaven, knowing she is still loved on earth. Thank you so much for sharing.

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