A Story for Our Time: the Butterfly Effect

I refuse to drown, I have a whole load more songs to write

We didn’t mean to go to sea. Today the sea is wild; it is throwing me up and down with a vengeance. I think it means to do me harm, perhaps it feels my desire to be on the land. The waves are gargantuan, our little boat flies high into the air and plummets back into the swell at a shocking speed. It is giving me a headache, but really that is the least of my worries. I am trying to focus just on the magnificence and power of the ocean to take my mind away from the fear.

I don’t think I fear death, I would be happy to rest at the bottom of the ocean, if death is a long rest I would be glad of it. What I fear is leaving my children without a mother. I fear for them, not myself. I feel my responsibilities; I wonder why that responsibility does not stretch further than my family. Perhaps I feel like I am not important for anyone else. I know that I am important to my family because they love me.

What if my work on planet Earth is actually important for more than just my family? Being important to my family makes me strive to stay alive in this crazy storm.

What if everything we do is fundamentally important? As in the Butterfly Effect; the trajectory of a tornado can be influenced by one beat of a butterfly’s wings several weeks before. Philosophers and meteorologists alike have debated this idea for several hundred years. Scientists have run computer programs that show that over time a minute difference in values at the start of a program can make a huge difference several months down the line. It also explains why the weather forecast is often so wrong! I used to refuse ever to look at or listen to the weather forecast, if it forecast what I considered to be bad weather I would feel miserable for no reason. What is the point in feeling miserable about something that hasn’t yet happened and in all likelihood will never happen? I also seemed to have a strong inner feeling for what the weather would do, sometimes I was catastrophically wrong, but most of the time I was right. I don’t know what happened to my inner forecaster, she seems to have gone walkabout. Perhaps that is because there is water all around me.

If I die on the next huge wave it will change the entire course of history (or Herstory). But is that important? How do I know that that wasn’t just what was meant to be?  I refuse to drown, I have a whole load more songs to write, more stories craving to come into being. More places to see, more people to meet. I haven’t finished this story yet.

I feel like a drowned rat, I am soaking wet from head to foot, my hair is whipping around my face and I can’t tell up from down. I feel like I am at one of those dreadful festivals where in the middle of summer a monsoon strikes. I have a plethora of rainy festival memories, one at Glastonbury festival when the whole event was a sea of mud, and I discovered an area for the under twos which had pristine grass and my daughter was one year old. The relief of putting her down for a couple of hours and sitting on the ground was immense!


Another time I remember standing alone breastfeeding my baby, this time at a smaller festival, in a sea of mud with an impromptu river flowing past me. I do believe it was at the same festival that I had a gig on an outside stage during a downpour with a mud-slick in front of the stage. I drank too many shots before I went on stage and proved to be too drunk to play my guitar, my audience of three waterproof nutters thought it was wonderful and hilarious, as I slurringly sang my songs whilst occasionally strumming my guitar.

The best part of a rainy festival is the bit where you go home, have a hot bath and get into warm dry snuggly pyjamas and thank your lucky stars that you have made it home without needing a tractor to tow your car out of the mud pit.

Expectation is everything, there are a few events that I have regularly been to where I expect it to rain for most or even all of the event and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But I do feel more relaxed when it is sunny, there is an expansiveness that comes with the sun, perhaps it is one of the gifts of the sun, people can stretch and spread out in the sun. Perhaps it doesn’t need to happen but the rain makes me tense up, and contract, pulling my extremities in to keep them dry and warm.


Life is simpler now, like when I was a child, when days went by without me noticing. All I need to do is stay alive today. I have spent a lot of my adulthood craving a simple life, and today my life is very simple, I just have to cling on with both hands.

I seem to have just the knack for having the opposite to a simple life. My choices seem to be lacking the ingredients necessary for a simple life, or perhaps that is just the way when you haven’t got heaps of money. I have experienced plenty of times in my life when I have actually had no money at all. To some people this is an unimaginable concept. A while back I received one of those unwelcome phone calls from someone in what seemed like a call centre. He said he was Swedish, and his name was Sean, which seemed unlikely, as soon as he said it I wondered if he had changed his name to something pronounceable in English or something that he though made him more exciting. In all honesty I don’t actually know any Swedish names, I am sure they are all very nice. Sean wanted to sell me Bitcoin, no no he didn’t want to sell me Bitcoin, he wanted me to have an opportunity to trade in Bitcoin and to make up to a whopping 12% of my income that way. I laughed and told him I didn’t have the £90 necessary to invest. Sean didn’t believe me. I told him that with £90 I could buy a week’s shopping for my children and he asked me if I would like a Ferrari? No, I said I’m not interested in cars. Sean didn’t believe me, he told me he had a Rolls Royce. Sean called me three or four times in the next couple of days, we made each other laugh, he had never left London in nine years, he had never heard of Somerset, and he was determined to get my £90. In the end joking aside I asked him why he was wasting his time calling me, and he said that he was sure everyone must have a spare £90 to invest in trading, he said I probably spend that much a week buying coffee. He actually called me a liar straight up! It was a strange conversation, I think either he was a big fat liar (completely possible) or he actually was incredibly naïve (I like to give people the benefit of the doubt). Either way I ended up seriously ranting at him about poverty and food banks and integrity, he didn’t know what had hit him and he still didn’t hang up, I rather unnecessarily politely said “I’m going now, Goodbye” and hung up. He didn’t call me back. I felt sad for the rest of the day, sad that there are people who have no concept of other people’s suffering, sad that he had never left London, sad that he thought cars were so wonderful, sad that he had never heard of Somerset, but mostly sad that he seemed to have no scruples, I checked out his company and they didn’t come out well. Now that I think of it I feel glad that I am lost at sea, far from people with no scruples, no milk of human kindness, no integrity. I am just alone out here with my cuddly children one of whom doesn’t really lie, and when she does is so filled with remorse that she has to own up quickly because it’s not ‘right’ and the other who hasn’t reached the age yet when she can tell the difference between dreams, her imagination and things that have actually happened and will tell me about all three with conviction and certainty that they are actual events, needless to say this drives the other daughter crazy due to her need for absolute truth.

Are there any absolute truths I ask myself? A police woman told me a couple of years ago that twenty people can witness the same event and none of those twenty will describe the event the same way, it all depends on what is important to them and their unique perspectives on life.

Being out here on this little boat is far from simple, and it is the simplest thing in the world. I love it and I hate it.




Butterfly photo by Ian Parker on Unsplash
Festival photo by Kipras Štreimikis on Unsplash

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