December 2005 Edition Vol. 5 Issue 8
A free Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.
Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.
Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
Ray Castillejo, M.D.
The Butterfly Effect
Have you ever heard of “The Butterfly Effect” theory? Sometime in 1963, a meteorologist by the name of Edward Lorenz was working in his lab. He was entering data into his computer in the hopes of modeling weather patterns when he stumbled upon a theory that is known as, “The Butterfly Effect”. The data include wind speed, air pressure and temperature that he entered into three separate equations that were linked in a mathematical feedback loop. This equation allowed Lorenz to predict weather patterns.
One day Lorenz was in a bit of a hurry and opted to take a shortcut when entering the data. He rounded the numbers to the nearest one thousandth rather than to the nearest one millionth so that instead of the precise number .506127, Lorenz rounded the figure and entered .506. As a scientist, he knew this would change the result, but expected only a minor change. Lorenz was astounded to discover that this tiny change made a profound impact on the final resulting weather pattern.
The discovery led Lorenz to ponder, and so in a paper given to the New York Academy of Sciences in 1963, Lorenz remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a seagull’s wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. By the time of his talk at the December 1972 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., the sea gull had evolved into the more poetic butterfly – thus the title of his talk was: Does the flap of a butterfly's wing in Brazil cause a tornado in Texas? – There you have “The Butterfly Effect” theory.
But what the heck does it mean for all of us? If you had asked me this question few years ago when I came across it, I would have just said: “It beats me!” But every time I came home from an occasion in which my friends or classmates and I just had what we call a mini-reunion or a get-together where we often talked and laughed about the crazy things we did in our youth, I think about the theory. You see, what we are and what we have become are the results or the effects of the choices we’ve made way back to the distant past, even when we were little boys or girls.
Choices, no matter how insignificant we think they are, can have effects or consequences far into the future and even after our death. It’s like the Butterfly Effect. Think about something you did or said to your friend that you thought was so insignificant or both of you were aware that it was an accidental mistake or a little joke, a little flap of a butterfly’s wing, and yet your friendship has never been the same since then. A sincere apology didn’t do any good. So you either avoid each other or stop talking to each other, or a minor disagreement readily becomes a major conflict. That choice you’d made so trivial and insignificant has led to major changes that could last forever.
So the implication is that in our life, if we make better choices, chances are we’ll have better results that can change our life for good. Conversely if we make a bad choice, chances are our relationship with others is ruined forever. But we need to keep in mind nevertheless that having made a choice that turns out to be bad is better than not having made any choice at all as long as we also choose to take the responsibility and do something to make it up or make correction. Thus to me, to become a better person, we need to plan a charted course to guide us to make better choices. A plan often makes us conscious of our attitude, action and behavior, giving us the opportunity to change them before “the butterfly flaps its wings,” and helping us achieve what we want to become.
To grow and fluorish
Facing reality is often one of the most difficult challenges in our life especially since we live in ways that allow us to ignore and escape reality. For many of us, making decision especially important decision is among the most difficult and even dreaded things we have to do. We’d prefer to avoid it if we can. But if we notice, our inability to make important decision is all too often the result of our unwillingness to take responsibility and has actually very little to do with the lack of courage and confidence on our part. Once we are willing to take the responsibility, we are ready to face reality.
But many of us allow ourselves to be paralyzed by indecision for whatever reason and thus get stuck with the status quo. We get stranded on an outcrop of the past while the wave of change and progress sweep past us like other cars honking on us in the highway because we are driving like a Nursing Home resident, maintaining a speed that is just a little bit faster than Parking. We stagnate because we often choose to rationalize or justify our indecision instead of confronting it, take the responsibility to decide and move on. We allow others' opinions or objections to stop us dead in our track. Samuel Johnson said: "Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome."
Well, no matter what we do, change and growth together with death and taxes are realities that are here to stay. But unlike death and taxes, change and growth are something we can choose to do; they are within our complete control and we can learn to accept and enjoy them. Suffice it to say that if we stubbornly adhere to our denials and delusions to resist change, our lives will be fraught with frustrations and disappointments. Or if we cling to our doubt and cynicism of others’ ideas, opinions and information, our ability to learn will diminish and our growth will be limited if not stunted like a plant not getting enough sunlight. On the other hand, if we are receptive and willing to listen to others like our friends who only try to steer us in the right direction, consider their ideas, opinions and information and appreciate their concern and attention rather than resent their interference, we’d benefit from their experience and knowledge. We’d learn from them the easy way instead of learning the hard way by our own experience. It’s often our bad or painful experience that forces us to learn and even makes us regret. That’s the hard way.
Another important thing to consider changing in order to grow is our self-centered attitude, action or behavior. Self-centeredness often leads to problems in our relationship with others even with friends and families. And if we have problem in our relationship, our solution is likely toward changing friends or even changing spouses. But by associating only with those who tolerate us, our circle of acquaintances will get smaller and smaller. As we continue to regress, our attitudes and behavior would alienate us from other people, and we’d become the center of our own limited universe. Certainly, we can always choose to live in isolation, but we can’t flourish as human beings unless we interact with others. We gain deeper insights in our association with others especially through open communications with those who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences.
Many people stay in the dark, away from change, growth and progress, and all too often it’s not because of ignorance and stubbornness, but because of closed-mindedness. They are not receptive to new ideas and new solutions because they focus on nothing but themselves and their problems. They unwittingly hold on to the same old self-centered and self-destructive ideas and beliefs that have kept them lonely, frustrated and miserable for so long. Closed-mindedness destroys a vital part of their inner selves. It’s not that they lack the knowledge. In fact, they feel and act superior to those around them. They even become egotistical and arrogant. It is that they are so sure they are right. They are convinced theirs is the only answer, the only way, for after all, they spend their life defending their beliefs and ideas and attempting to prove them. They miserably fail to realize that as someone said – “it is in the dark that all of the negatives are developed.”
Closed-minded people only make life miserable for others. Closed-minded parents in particular make life miserable for their children. They refuse to recognize the possibility of alternatives, let alone to understand that the old way is not necessarily the best way. When the children follow their different way, these parents would get upset and angry, if not disappointed and frustrated. Resisting or fighting change, they unwittingly wall off children from reality, stifle their lives, and sabotage their potentials. Many children give in to their parents’ wishes just to make their parents happy instead of choosing their own lives for themselves but at the expense of a lifetime of frustration and unhappiness. However, many children rebel as their final attempt to think and make a choice for themselves.
The good thing about these closed-minded parents in particular is that because of them many films have been made about them, and these films are enlightening to watch. We learn that closed-minded people are intolerant, fearful, and generally pessimistic. Because they are basically unhappy, they are less able to help others, even to provide them with moral or emotional support – not even to their own children.
In the movie Dead Poet Society, Neil Perry, a prep school student who dreams of becoming an actor lives in fear of his imperious father. The unyielding father wants his son, Perry, to be matriculated into Harvard Medical School to become a doctor. He is not open to the son’s any other choice of profession. His mind was locked tighter than Fort Knox. In the end, the boy killed himself by jumping off the building. When I watched this movie about fifteen years ago sometime in 1989 or 1990, it brought tears to my eyes because I saw myself in both the boy and the father. It had shaken something inside me to make me want to be a better father, for sad stories like this actually happen every day in real life, not necessarily resulting in a death. It was then that being a father, my choice became crystal clear - I’d rather have a kid flipping hamburgers for a living, alive and happy, than a kid in a top medical school studying to become a doctor, dead.
If there are differences between you and me, they come from our exposures and experiences and how we perceived them and learned from them. Probably like many of you, I’ve made many mistakes and had many regrets. And like some of you, I grew up in a family and social environment where love means criticism; caring means being yelled at and beaten up; a good boy means to obey blindly; and to reason and argue mean defiance and disobedience that call for a rough physical discipline. Making a choice for yourself that is against parents’ wishes is like being an irritating twinkle of your parents’ eye. For the good part of my life, I was lost, uncomfortable, and blind to the good in the world. My stubbornness, intolerance, and strong self-will often funneled me into disappointment and disaster that I sometimes lived in quiet desperation. But perhaps unlike you, I kept asking myself: What’s wrong with me? Why do I feel this way with others? Why do some of them automatically activate my prejudices, envy and even hatred and resentment? Is it me or is it them? What am I doing wrong? What are my choices? I confronted myself every so often until I was finally pleased with the image in the mirror looking back at me with a genuine smile.
Reflection or self-confrontation enabled me to gradually open my mind, change my perspective, and make it possible for me to stop placing others above and below me on my own imaginary scale – to stop valuing them according to some superficial and arbitrary standards like their looks, their status or achievements. Many of us are judgmental because it’s the environment and culture we grew up with. But it is this judgmental attitude that readily activates the negative cogs and gears of our brain – cynicism, arrogance, anger, disdain and disrespect. They entangle and drive our thoughts antagonistically outward, blocking out the giving and receiving love and kindness. And the more we judge others by their surfaces rather than by their inner selves like warmth, depth, kindness and compassion, the more we feel that we are being judged the same way. It makes us uncomfortable being with other people.
I also realized early on that if you hold on to the pains of the past, you are likely to opt for isolation rather than interaction, alienation rather than participation, and avoidance rather than getting along with others or making friends with them. Your attachment to the past would make you withdrawn, fearful and hesitant, and even critical and cynical. You become unforgiving, and vulnerable to nurturing grudges and to the perverted enjoyment of gossips. Truth would become nothing more than what you want to believe rather than what it really is. The “who” would become more important to you than the “what.”
In any event, through my experiences and observations, I’ve come to realize that true harmony in relationships does not come about simply because we work toward eliminating discord and conflict, or we passively put aside differences. Rather, we have to develop it through our individual efforts by bringing understanding, acceptance, tolerance, kindness, and love to others. Doing so gives meaning to our life. It motivates us to make a difference - to do something to make our lives count. In Living a Life That Matters, Harold Kushner writes, "Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth or power. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will be at least a little bit different for our having passed.”
The idea of making my life count helps me devise a strategic plan to follow a charted course to hopefully take me where I want to be at the end. I want my children to be able to write a better eulogy for me. And I want to be remembered by friends as at least someone who tried his best to do something to make friendship and fellowship more harmonious and fun. (To be Continued)
Those who are curious about reading the written account and viewing the pictures of the wedding of one of the daughters of the member of the CIM Class 1972, click on this: Teodoro-Suico Wedding
Alumni web site
Our ASOCIMAI web site is in need of web master(s) to take over and is badly in need of updates. So calling Mark Paradela and Brad Tan. Come on, Guys! Let's have some excitement with our alumni web site. It's not fair for every one if our class 1972 web site have all the fun. Let's help each other and work together. Just let me know what you want me to do except to take it over because my hands are full with our class 1972 web site.
What about others in the alumni? Any volunteer? Can you think of something you can help? If you are concerned that there's very little you can do, and what little you have would not make any difference anyway, why not just let others decide about that and give what little help you can? Hannah More, a British writer, reformer and philanthropist in 1745 - 1833, said: “One kernel is felt in a hogshead; one drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire helps to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, or too poor to be of service. Think of this and act.” So what about a little moral support and encouragement for Mark and Brad?
I know there are those who would call a service in our alumni association a “thankless job," and yet in doing something for the association, you unnecessarily put yourself to some kind of risk like being blamed or criticized for your ideas, thoughts or opinions. Certainly, you cannot blame anyone who would rather stay safe and secure with his/her status quo. After all, why get involved when you don't have to? Well, Helen Keller once said: ”Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding risk or danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
So what’d you say? If there is one suggestion I’m allowed to make, it is that we should all start counting our blessings. It is the most effective way to make us realize that we have more than enough to share and that we are blessed with intelligence that is more capable than we think it is. People who don’t count their blessings tend to assume that they have nothing to share and that their intelligence, skill or ability is not good enough. Eric Hoffer, author and philosopher in 1902 – 1983, said: “ The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”
A trucker came into a truck stop cafe and placed his order. He said, "I want three flat tires, a pair of headlights and a pair of running boards."
The brand new blonde waitress, not wanting to appear stupid, went to the kitchen and said to the cook,
"This guy out there just ordered three flat tires, a pair of headlights and a pair of running boards. What does he think this place is an auto parts store?"
"No," the cook said. "Three flat tires mean three pancakes, a pair of headlights is two eggs sunny side up, and running boards are 2 slices of crisp bacon."
"Oh, OK!" said the blonde. She thought about it for a moment and then spooned up a bowl of beans and gave it to the customer.
The trucker asked, "What are the beans for Blondie?"
She replied, "I thought while you were waiting for the flat tires, headlights and running boards, you might as well gas up!"
Real 911 Calls, "BELIEVE" it or not!!
Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What is your emergency?
Caller: I heard what sounded like gunshots coming from the brown house on the corner.
Dispatcher: Do you have an address?
Caller: No, I'm wearing a blouse and slacks, why?
Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What is the nature of your emergency?
Caller: I'm trying to reach nine eleven but my phone doesn't have an eleven on it.
Dispatcher: This is nine eleven.
Caller: I thought you just said it was nine-one-one
Dispatcher: Yes, ma'am nine-one-one and nine-eleven are the same thing.
Caller: Honey, I may be old, but I'm not stupid.
Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What's the nature of your emergency?
Caller: My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart.
Dispatcher: Is this her first child?
Caller: No, you idiot! This is her husband!
Caller: Yeah, I'm having trouble breathing. I'm all out of breath. Darn....I think I'm going to pass out.
Dispatcher: Sir, where are you calling from?
Caller: I'm at a pay phone. North and Foster. Damn......
Dispatcher: Sir, an ambulance is on the way. Are you an asthmatic?
Dispatcher: What were you doing before you started having trouble breathing?
Caller: Running from the Police.
A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.
A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.
A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.
A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.
A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.
A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.
A snail can sleep for three years.
Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.
All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.
Almonds are a member of the peach family.
An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.
Butterflies taste with their feet.
Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds. Dogs only have about 10.
"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "Mt."
February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.
In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
If the population of China walked past you, in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.
If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights
It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.
Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.
No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.
On a Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament building is an American flag.
Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.
Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
"Stewardesses" is the longest word typed with only the left hand and "lollipop" with your right.
The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.
The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.
The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet.
The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.
The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).
There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
There are more chickens than people in the world.
There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous
There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: "abstemious" and "facetious."
There's no Betty Rubble in the Flintstones Chewable Vitamins.
Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.
TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.
Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.
Women blink nearly twice as much as men.