Lauren Chaplin – the butterfly effect
The schmaltz continues as LAUREN CHAPLIN discusses Hebrew, choices, and Myspace wisdom.
‘It has been said that something as small as the fluttering of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world’
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the butterfly effect recently, mainly because it’s more interesting than redrafting an essay on Milton’s narrative technique, but also because I’ve just rediscovered my absolute adoration of swimming.
By swimming, I don’t just mean having a cheeky dip in the pool and frolicking on a lilo, but proper swimming, doing lengths until you feel that kind of gorgeously rewarding exhaustion. In the weeks since Girton has given a whole new meaning to ‘pool college’, I’ve reminisced to whomever is willing to listen about my youthful foray into the competitive swimming scene, with weekly galas and almost daily training and verruca socks. Tragically, this swimming career was cut short when I realised being in the county squad meant 6am starts, and so, like Justin Bieber or Shia LaBeouf, I retired at my prime.
Swimming was just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg though, and, like the Titanic, I was full to the brim of now wasted potential (too soon?). Ballet, jazz, gymnastics, Hebrew lessons, advanced knot tying; so many childhood activities I could have pursued. As so often happens though, I had to make a choice between them and gradually, my chances of becoming the next Darcey Bussell or Rabbi Akiva diminished.
It’s a plight I’m sure nearly all Cambridge students are familiar with, and it continues to plague us even within these hallowed halls. ADC or CamFM? Lacrosse Blue or JCR President? Cindies or Fez? Choices can define but also confine you.
Often though, the most important choices are those which we don’t realise we’re making, the ones with their significance only apparent in retrospect. Everyone’s life has these tiny turning points. It’s like in The History Boys when Dakin, musing on ‘the mood of possibility’ quips ‘If Halifax had better teeth, we may have lost the war.’
In a ‘what if’ moment of comparative magnitude, if I hadn’t boarded a coach to Manchester four years ago, I may not have become best friends with one of my favourite people. I want to list a couple more examples of turning points (rule of three and all that) but honestly, this is the only one that springs to mind, and only because said best friend pointed it out to me. Riding the train home instead of the bus, going for a curry instead of Thai, spending the evening at the cinema rather than the theatre – literally any tiny change could have had a mammoth impact on your present and you would never know.
With this plethora of possibilities, it can be easy to lament your decisions, to reprehend where your life has ended up. As a Myspace meme once taught me, however, ‘Never regret anything because at one time it was exactly what you wanted.’ You wanted that lie in over pursing archery lessons, you chose going on that swap over revising for your mock, and hey – that’s okay.
You can do anything but you can’t do everything. Cheesy, but true. Hell, this whole column is cheesy, but, wrapped up in the cynicism and solipsism Cambridge can breed, it’s so easy to forget. To help you remember, commit this handy haiku to memory and always be kind (just a general point but I wanted to slip it in) (that’s what he said!!!) (lol!!!!!)
YOLO so go show//
The world what you’ve got and shine//
Bright like a strobe light//