This morning I received an email from out of the blue from a total stranger. It prompted many minutes of reflection in my journal pages as I sipped my first cup of coffee.
I first thought of Duwamish Chief Seattle (1786-1866) who said: “The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
What will I do today to the web and how will that change me, I wondered?
Seattle’s wise words in turn made me recall “the butterfly effect”, a concept coined in 1961 by MIT meteorologist and father of chaos theory Edward Lorenz. His butterfly effect is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings. In theory, the butterfly effect occurs when a small change at one place has a significant impact on another condition.
Was the monarch butterfly that fluttered past my sunroom windows engendering a tsunami that would someday crash into the Japanese archipelago? Will these words I’m stringing together have some kind of impact on you?
I then scribbled a few more lines in my Moleskine, thinking about the notion I’ve had in recent months that artists—poets and other writers, musicians, dancers…—seem to be more attuned to interconnectedness than your average person-on-the-street. It’s part of our job to make connections between ideas, between one note and the next, one word and the next ones, one stroke of paint on the canvas and the ones that follow. And what we create typically leads to further connections. Writers interconnect often with editors, publishers, and, more than ever before, thanks to social media, with our readers. Composers work with musical performers and sometimes lyricists and librettists. Visual artists develop relationships with gallery owners and patrons. You get the picture! What we do and how we’re able to bring our creations to the public is all about being interconnected. We practice interconnection virtually daily.
That early morning email certainly fostered many enriching thoughts—and the pure serendipity of its arrival out of seemingly nowhere further enhanced my sense of being “one with the Universe.”
Here’s the email:
“Warmest greetings from a bright summer here in Worcestershire, UK.
“Please forgive me for sending this out of the blue— I saw details of your work in the Poets and Writers Directory.
“I wonder if you would be interested in a little film that I have recently put together, in lockdown.
“It is a sort of musical prayer, intended somehow for the well-being of all of us, in this desperately difficult pandemic.
“Please do send on to others, if you think appropriate…
“I also wrote this little poem to go with the performance.
“Obviously we don’t know each other, but I felt it might be a positive thing to share these words and musical notes with a few fellow poets in these challenging times.
“Sending very best wishes,
So, there I was tucked into my easy chair in the sunroom in Brockport, NY, when a 17th-century Bohemian-Austrian composer came into the room via a 20th-century British violinist via the New York City-based Poets and Writers.
Sure makes me wonder what butterfly effect these musings— my thank you note to Peter whose good vibrations I felt from across the pond and several time zones—will have tomorrow and in years to come in the interconnected world we live in.
Peter Campbell-Kelly is section leader, second violins, of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The piece he performed and recorded on September 5, 2020, is Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s 1676 Mystery Sonata No. 16 ‘Passacaglia.”