The Butterfly Effect

Priya Kukreja, Co Editor In Chief

In 1963, Edward Lorenz made a presentation to the New York Academy of Sciences about a new theory: the butterfly effect. He was literally laughed out of the room. The theory stated that the flutter of a butterfly’s wing could create a tornado half-way across the world.
For many years, the butterfly effect was nothing more than an interesting myth. A silly science-fiction extrapolation. But in the mid 1990s, physics professors confirmed that the butterfly effect was accurate, viable, and worked every time.
They proved that small actions can have large effects.
As I reflect on the last four years of my time on The Hoofbeat, I realize that there are a few moments that have been defining of my who I am today. One stands out in particular.
At the peak of junior year, I was spending anywhere from 12-16 hours of my day at school, working on debate or newspaper or whatever I needed to get done. I call those times the dark days, not because they were sad or lonely, but because I would literally not see the sunlight from being trapped in the building all day long.
Still, there were few things that brought brightness into my days. One of those was Mike, our school custodian. I would always run into Mike late at night in random hallways. Our conversations were short, mostly small talk, but pleasant nonetheless. He never had anything less than a smile on his face and a positive attitude.
One day, when I was feeling especially dark days-ish, Mike came up to me with the most recent copy of The Hoofbeat. He told me that he read my column about the Oscars’ White Out, and he liked it. He continued to explain how he watched the Oscars live, and related every thought in my column about the lack of representation of people of color. He also mentioned that he had been reading my column since the start of the year.
After three years of working on staff, I had heard too many times that ‘high school journalism doesn’t’ matter,” or that “no one actually reads the paper.”
But with just a few short words, Mike completely transformed my perspective on what it means to write powerfully. He reminded me why I started writing in the first place. Our short conversation revitalized my passion for the written word. I realized that if words can connect me with even one other person, they hold value that is unmatchable.
With a newfound confidence in journalism, I began pushing for stories that would address pressing issues in our community. Journalism became an outlet to explore new ideas and spur productive discourse.
But most importantly, through my lasting friendship with Mike, I learned the importance something that often goes undervalued: kindness. Simple, unwavering kindness. As I look back on my 17 short years of life, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the people who have impacted me without ever even knowing it. Mike’s comment to me set of a chain reaction in my life. He was the equivalent of a butterfly wing that revived my aspirations, proving yet again, that every single thing we do has the potential to cause a tornado.