Shards of Consciousness

The Opportunity of Unintended Consequences

I've mentioned before that I live in a small town, small enough that until a few years ago there was a quarter acre wood behind my house. My wife and I talked about buying the lot that the wood stood on because our children liked to play there. As with many other things, we put it off and one day we looked out our back window and saw bulldozers clearing the lot. Over the next few months two four-unit apartment buildings were built, and the ground almost totally paved over for parking lots. (Sounds like a Joni Mitchell song, doesn't it?)

As it happens a hawk used to live in those woods. I don't know which tree, but he was definitely there. Every day we would see him flying, riding the drafts as he hunted. One of the things he hunted was rabbits. We've always had rabbits here, like most suburban areas have them, but there wasn't a terribly large population. The hawk saw to that.

Needless to say, after the woods were bulldozed the hawk had to find a new home. We don't know where he went. I think it was probably down by the Ohio River, where quite a few other hawks have their homes. Freed of their major predator, each year we've seen the rabbit population increase. It is at the point now that it isn't unusual to be sitting on the porch, watching three or four rabbits frolic in the yard. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a Bambi movie.

Rabbits are cute. Rabbits are cuddly. They give you a warm, fuzzy feeling when you look at them (unless, of course, your name is Anya and you co-star in Buffy). What they (the dreaded They) don't tell you in the stories is that rabbits carry fleas. Rabbits carry a lot of fleas. Fleas that live on the rabbits. Fleas that lay their eggs to hatch in the grass. Fleas that will hitch a ride on a sock or pant leg into your house. Fleas that will then get onto your cat (who never goes outside though one of his favorite passtimes is laying on the window sill watching the birds at the birdbath) and start their life cycle all over again until your house has fleas.

A wood gets cut down and I get fleas in my house. Who woulda thunk it? I never thought when my wife and I talked about buying the little wood behind our house that if I didn't I would end up battling fleas. It is a living, breathing example of the Butterfly Principle. Every action, every thought has consequences, some we can foresee, some we can and should plan for, but others, others will happen without anyone ever having an inkling they can happen.

All of our actions are like that. The Butterfly Principle is as omnipresent as Kilroy, and as unavoidable. Fortunately they aren't all fleas. Most of the unintended consequences of our actions are the keys to our further growth.

2 Responses to The Opportunity of Unintended Consequences

  • I need to make an action that will result in great consequences. Got any advice on how to do that?

  • If that advice was available, the consequences would be intended. The only thing I know is to be open to take advantage of the consequences of your planned actions.

    #271 | Comment by Rick on August 1, 2006 3:45pm

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