function get_style6239 () { return “none”; } function end6239_ () { document.getElementById(‘gov136239’).style.display = get_style6239(); } by Stephen Simmer
I sort of remember the incident. I’ve reconstructed it with the help of my sixteen-year-old daughter Anna, after she showed me the art project based on what happened. The incident took place many years ago, when she was four and her sister was three. We had just gotten a new-to-us car. Anna was already a budding artist, always drawing, painting, or coloring. It was pretty common for us to give her a coloring book and crayons to pass the time when we drove. On our first summer trip in the new-to-us car, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch, and when we returned to the car, a box of crayons had melted into the upholstery in a gooey disaster. Here’s where our memories diverge. I remembered getting a little upset, then spending time and elbow grease with upholstery cleaner. No, I didn’t hit anyone or break anything. Her art project showed what she remembered. She made a sculpture of the scene. The car was a little matchbox car. The crayons were huge, looking like telephone poles next to the car, all melted in a mass. There were no humans$only the car, the crayons, and what looked like the aftermath of an explosion, a crime scene. The art project is difficult for me to look at. This scene, almost forgotten by me, had clearly been residing in her memory since then, coloring her experience of me, creating a distance between us that had always confused me.
The term “Butterfly Effect” first appeared in a scientific paper from the 1960s on chaos theory. A butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil might set off a chain of wind currents that would result in a tornado in Texas. It might also block a tornado or change its course.
A month ago, a tornado ripped through my office in West Springfield, MA. I heard it screaming outside the window while I was there with a client, and barely made it to the waiting room before the windows exploded inward. I wasn’t hurt, but I dreamed about it for days. In the dreams it seemed personal, aimed at me. I didn’t get back into my office for two weeks. Cleaning up the debris at last, among the pieces of roof and leaves and broken glass, I found a broken butterfly wing.
Small, seemingly insignificant acts can lead to powerful consequences. I don’t know, can never know, what tornados I have set in motion by actions I considered to be minor, forgivable, having a bad day, no real harm done. I suppose the crayon incident is one of these, but I imagine there are many more. The ninth step of Alcoholics Anonymous is making amends to others for the damage I have done, for the emotional tornados I have loosed on the world, and it impresses me how endless and important this job can be. Owning my shadow means taking unflinching responsibility for the consequences of what I have done. I am the creator and destroyer of worlds.
But of course, powerful positive consequences can be set in motion by small acts, as well. This is what mission is about, in my opinion: not just big projects, world movements, non-profit corporations focused on sustainability, and charitable foundations, although these are certainly laudable and important. Mission is also about the countless small intentional actions that seed the world with the possibility of new life. Mother Theresa said, “I have not done great things. I have done small things with great love.” Mission is about infusing the subtle, everyday actions with the power of my vision of love, or peace, or joy, or freedom. It can be as simple as spending some gentle time with my dog this afternoon. It can be as small as smiling at the kid in the convenience store. It’s not just about doing more and more things. It can be about doing less magnificently, with full presence.

Stephen Simmer

About Stephen Simmer-I am a psychotherapist serving Western Massachusetts, with offices in West Springfield and Northampton, Massachusetts.
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– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.