A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

30 March 2007

Of Ripples From Butterfly Wings

Daily things that are within our ability to do...yet we don't do them...and wonder what would have happened had we gone out of the way, if but for a minute, to take the time to do them...

Things whiz by my car window as I drive my daughter to school, they whiz by when I go to Fresh Market to buy food, things whiz by everyone on their daily day-to-day doings. We must look as bewildering and complicated from above as an ant colony looks to us from our perspective as well. We all have our destinations...we are determined to get there, our aim is predetermined...we shouldn't waver from it...we must be good scout, soldier, and worker ants...don't deviate from our mission. "Git 'er done!"

But at what cost? Is there a cost...is there just a tiny little butterfly effect that we might cause if we alter our daily doings...just how far would those ripples be felt...and most of all, would it be worth it in the end?

I was driving my daughter to school this morning, down Congressman Dickinson Drive...and right before I passed the Montgomery Humane Shelter on the right side of the road, there was a dog sitting on the side of the road...a big dog...a brown mastiff-looking lug of a dog...the canine equivalent of those not-so-bright mugs that protect the corrupt bosses in those old 30s/40s black/white films. But he wasn't a mean-looking type...he's one of those lovable mugs - just out of his element. I could tell he was lost...but I had to get my daughter to her school...she couldn't be late and I can't look up the shelter's number and drive at the same time. I COULD...but I refuse to drive that way...everyone should refuse such things.

I made it to her school - just in time and exited out of the parking lot - I take a different route back, so I don't know what became of that dog. Had I made a call and let them know about the dog...had I flapped my wings a little...they would have flapped theirs...and a whole other outcome would have come about. But I don't know the outcome...not that I would have known the alternate outcome. It's unlikely I would have called back to check on his status at the shelter..."don't ask...you might not want them to tell". But...I won't ask here as well...I might not want to hear it either. My choice to remain out of it...to step off that mental platform that calls each of us to do more than we do...called to me stronger than the one which would have gotten me involved.

The dog is now a blur as I go past, continuing on to my journey...my journey which is set, in mental concrete...that shouldn't have cracks in it. There must be no cracks...continue looking...but don't touch...don't make waves with those wings. I turn left onto Coliseum Blvd...there's a man, looking sad, a white plastic grocery store bag in his hand...bending down picking up trash from his yard. You can tell this is a daily stop on his personal journey...his that is also probably set. No verbal exchanges I'm sure from any passersby...do any of the littering culprits ever drive by to catch him picking up THEIR stuff they threw in his yard because they didn't want to clutter up their own cars? Do they drive by and snicker? Do they repeatedly throw the stuff in his yard all the time? Perhaps they work at the same store his grocery bag, now used as a trash bag, is from. I thought of that all in that millisecond time-frame that seemed to freeze-frame and then speed up again, like it does in films. As with the dog...my first and final contact with him. I'm almost to my destination - I'll not be late after all...keep it all in the parameters of my initial plan...don't get sidetracked.

I drop my daughter off...a few kids are being let out of their parents cars and running toward the school...you aren't supposed to do that - they are supposed to be accompanied by a parent when they are in the parking lot...they aren't being good ants...they aren't helping their colony. The small children are oblivious to the fact that the majority of the cars dashing in and out of the parking lot can't see them over the top of their hoods...let alone a rear-view image...but they still scurry. The cars, seemingly having their own agendas, must get to the next destination...a series of stops...move along...next station...move along again...and nothing is supposed to slow them down. But there are tiny little delicate cogs that can throw that system totally out of whack...these children, who probably have heard that old proverb..."children should be seen and not heard"...don't realize they are neither seen nor heard in a parking lot among the massive metal giants. Giants that can squoosh a child like a bug. So, I've decided today...I will be their champion...I will come to their aid...I will notify the school about these goings on before I hear what we all don't want to hear. I will pick up my phone, I will get online and write an email, I will dare to be that ripple that happens when I start to flap my wings...I will alight on my mental platform...I will take the time and I WILL be heard. It's only just a whisper I know...but a whisper can stop an accident, save a dog, or the person's life who might end up swerving to avoid hitting it. Whispers have started and stopped wars...whispers are much stronger than you can imagine.

Just think if we all spoke up from a whisper once in a while and beat our little wings until they made ripples...and if you ever saw ripples in water when you toss in even the tiniest pebble, you know they just keep going out further and further. I believe even a seemingly inconsequential phone call, intervention, deviation from our set norm...can set things in motion we've never dreamt of...and perhaps a deed we do will soar...even without anyone even knowing it.


  1. Wow! Just WOW! This was beautiful! Thanks for reminding me that no matter how small we think the gesture, it can have enormous benefits, or consequences, to those around us and, also, to ourselves.

    Go ahead, Marianne, flap those wings!

  2. Indeed, indeed. The thing is, we're making ripples of some kind, of some size every moment of every day. As you say, how we choose to make them and what kind we make, that is up to us.

    In this world in which we are living, I think that most often we forget about ripples altogether, without the remembrance that every choice we make (or fail to make) changes the world in some way. Forever. Too busy. Too hassled, too worn down, too whatever it may be. But we're still making ripples, and we're responsible for what they are. Far too often, we neglect the "butterfly wings" that can mean so much to another person. One, brief moment of kindness; I know it's true because it works on me and I see it work on other people when I stop and remember to be human.

    Many faiths share the concept, but I think that the earth religions put it elegantly: Whatever you put out into the world will come back to you threefold. Evil to those who do evil; good things to those who do good, and many shades in between.

    One of the worst things to put out is indifference, for then the world will largely ignore you and leave you isolated. It seems to me that that is what you're talking about: taking those brief moments to remember to care and breaking the patterns of "normality" that always seem to be making our ripples for us. Surely, there are a lot of things we can't control. The more significant question is, what choices will we make with the things and the time that we can control?

    How will we decide to change the world today?

  3. Thank you blue5goddess for your compliment...it was quite a couple of surreal moments...the dog, the man, the children. Perhaps I was somehow meant to be reminded of the fact we can all do important things...without ever having validation that we've done them. I think we are all capable of many, many things without realizing it, large and small...and like Mark (the eye wit) stated...even just a friendly remark to someone can really alter a lot.

    I know these comments made me feel so incredibly good just now. When I write these blogs, I never know how many people read them...IF people read them...or if I'm writing just to get things out of my head, which isn't bad...but nice comments such as these...that make me think someone actually liked what I wrote...well, that really makes me soar. :)

    So, thank you both for stopping and taking the time to comment.