According to Chaos Theory, some small event – like the flapping wings of a butterfly – can ultimately lead to some very significant event — like a hurricane that is first felt thousands of miles away.
Given its name, I suppose it’s not surprising that the theory is used most often to explain catastrophic events caused by some minor seemingly-unrelated and distant disruption.
But I would like to propose a twin theory which I have called Reverse Chaos Theory. This brilliant idea is the result of a few moments I spent this morning in the parking lot of our local DIY store. We were lifting some sharp-edged lawn equipment into the car when it slipped. In the process of trying to catch it, I put the can of oil I was also carrying on the roof of the car. After arranging our purchases in the trunk, I slammed down the door and started to get into the passenger seat.
A stranger passing by called over that I’d left something on the roof. It was the can of oil. I expressed my gratitude effusively.
My gratitude was effusive because, along with the can of oil, my wallet – containing my credit cards, Peter’s credit cards, store and loyalty cards, my driver’s license and insurance, and about $50 – was also on the roof.
I was shaking as I got back in the car. The oil was nothing. But the upheaval of losing my wallet somewhere on the road between Cambridge and home still elevates my heart rate.
I doubt very much that stranger is sitting at home tonight thinking she did a good deed. But I know she did. And if she’d just passed by deciding that can of oil was none of her business – or if she’d passed by sixty seconds sooner or later – my life right now would be in chaos.
So I’m dedicating this theory to her. I don’t know her name, so I’ll just have to call her Reverse Chaos.