Remarkable story of unrelated events all relating
Pre-destiny or free will
There is a theory called the butterfly effect that states that a small change in one place can result in a large impact in a later state. The most common example used is of a hurricane formed due to the flapping of wings of a butterfly several weeks earlier on another continent.
Seem crazy? This is a respectable theory that scientists around the world study. In fact Einstein spent years trying to prove this cause and effect theorem, something he called String Theory. From his perspective, invisible strings that connect each and everyone one of us results in this cause and effect concept. Crazy or not, it does beg the question how much of our lives are predetermined and impacted by factors outside of our control. Can for instance a morning rain, cause you to be late for work, missing a co-worker who goes postal killing everyone in the office? Or perhaps that red light causes you to miss an accident on the highway? Are we living in a world of chance or destiny?
This is the question that is posed and examined in the book Chaos Theories.
Image Credit: The Scribbling Scribe
The General Story
The story begins with Jim Parish, who most would consider a nerdy IT engineer, who lives a very simple and structured life. He has a routine that he is comfortable with. One day a series of seemingly random events drop a child into his arms ... literally. A child fell out of a window that he normally would not have been under except there had been a rainfall the night before that caused a puddle to form that enabled a car to splash him and cause him to stop walking. This odd confluence of events began an entanglement between him, Tali (the falling child), Tali's mother and her ex-husband who is on a murder spree across the country looking for Tali and is willing to kill or torture anyone who gets in his way.
Along the way Jim finds his life turned upside down both physically but also emotionally and mentally. He begins to question how he views life in terms of relationships and concept of free will. He embarks on a journey of self discovery on what relationships can offer and how his life could be altered if a different road could be chosen, that is if he can survive the attack by a demented ex-husband.
The Bigger Question
While this book can simply be read for the general story itself, there is a larger sub-theme running throughout the book. The concept of predestination, or the question if there is such a thing as fate. In the book, characters elaborate that there are infinite possibilities in life, and yet to some extent we are powerless to choose which direction to go in since we have already chosen where we are going. If this sounds like a circular argument, you would not be alone.
This concept that based on who we are, our personalities, the choices we have made before will force us to always act in a predictable manner moving forward. One could almost theorize that if we knew all your past decisions and could factor in all the variables we could predict your decision making just as we can predict the weather. Have you ever taken the quiz on which stall you would choose if you walked into a bathroom? It is amazing how most people would choose the same stall given the same factors. Perhaps the concept of free will is nothing more than a myth.
This can be quite uncomfortable for many who feel that they alone decide their destiny and it is not yet written, yet in some ways based on who you are your future might already be planned. This is the deeper concept that is examined in this book that created for this reader more than a few brain explosions.
Butterfly Effect= The beating of one butterfly's wings can cause a hurricane thousands of miles away
Do you think you could believe in the butterfly effect
What we can take away from this story
I do believe that every book, fiction or non-fiction, should force us to think about greater concepts in the world or in our life. This book was not your typical story and thus requires a slight different and more fundamental life lesson.
Seize the Day! Made famous in Dead Poet Society the famous poem:
“I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck our all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I come to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Too easy is it to be sucked into a routine of waking, going to work, eating dinner, perhaps watching TV, going to sleep and doing it all over again. Too fragile is our life, and too short is our life span to not seek out and take advantage of opportunities. This is not advocating us all quitting work and traveling through Europe on a backpack, but rather find those opportunities daily to do something special for yourself or others. Sure we have to work, but we also need to live life. Find the things you love to do and make the time to do them. Never get to the end of your life and fear the journey was not all that you had hoped for. Seize the day!
My Overall Review
During my reading of the first two chapters of this book I was skeptical. The writing was atypical of most fictional books even with a subject matter that was odd. However, what this reader did not realize was that this story was securing a chain around my waist that kept me tied to this book until the very end. There were several times that I had to put the book down and literally stare at the wall to think through some idea the author put forth about pre-destination or chaos theory before I could continue. They were ideas that demanded thought which could not be done while reading simultaneously. They demanded their own careful consideration, and occasional mind explosions.
If you came only for the story you would walk away from this book quite satisfied. If you came for something larger, questioning the world around you amidst an interesting story you will be leave the table satiated and yet thinking of your next meal. While seemingly small in size, this book packs an emotional punch as well as an intellectual one that will have you waiting for the next installment.
Get your own copy
This book caught me off guard in a way few have. A great story with some larger life messages that sneak out and grab the reader. Certainly worth a second look.
Interview with Author Stephen Banks
Q: What are you most proud of when you think about this book?
A: I'm not sure that "proud" is the right word, but I'm most gratified by the response I've had, I'd hoped that the book would be able to reach different people on different levels, and maybe some of them would make all the connections and see the world a little more as I see it. It's been very interesting to see the different focus reviewers have had. One really enjoyed the thriller aspect but thought the philosophy was "background churn" that detracted from the action; another was really impressed with the application of chaos theory but could have used less violence. A few have really gotten it.
I guess I'm most proud of the two college teachers - one in engineering and one who teaches a course on Chaos in Literature - who are recommending the book to their students. I'm totally self taught on all of this, and that's quite a validation.
Q: Which came first, your desire to write an interesting story, or your desire to examine deeper philosophies?
A: I initially started writing the book as purely an interesting thriller. It wasn't until I experienced the tragedy of a chaotic event in my own life that I went back and looked at the cause and effect that the killer would have on other lives, and felt the need to examine and share those revelations.
Q: Has the writing of this book caused you to change how you see or live your life?
A: It's really been the other way around. A major change in how I saw life caused me to write this book.
Q: What are your goals moving forward?
A: To paraphrase Samuel Goldwyn, I don't care if my books make a nickle, as long as every man, woman and child reads them. Well, maybe not child. I would love to see Chaos Theories as a film, preferably by Tarantino or the Coen brothers, with with me adapting the screenplay. I am also working on a second novel ("Random Acts") which is not exactly a sequel but does involve some of the same characters.
In the short term, I'm very happy with the respect and recognition Chaos Theories has garnered among its small fan base, and simply want to expand that audience.