I recently found out something weird about jellyfish.
If you have one jellyfish and cut it in half, instead of having no jellyfish because it is dead, now you have two. Jellyfish regenerate. If it wasn’t so terrifying it would be amazing. Now I have nightmares about jellyfish rising up and taking over the world because they are the undead. Paranoia aside, it does speak to me about unintended consequences.
Life can be like trying to kill a jellyfish (metaphorically). We try to overcome obstacles and, in the process, create other obstacles that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the action we just took.
For example, we recently had the joy of moving our 2 year old from a cot to a ‘big girl’ bed. She was having trouble going to sleep at night and we thought this move would help. No longer is she trapped when she has a sleep, she can get in and out as she pleases. Like when she drops her stuffed animals on the floor, she can hop out, get them and get back in to bed. She loves it and she was ready for it. Sleep time should become easier.
But instead, not only does she still struggle some nights to go to sleep, now, any time she wants, she can get out of bed and annoy her brother in the next room. The only time she is happy to stay in bed is when she drops her stuffed animals on the floor. Instead of hopping out to get them and jumping back in to bed, she calls out until someone does it for her. Unintended consequences.
In our world, unintended consequences are everywhere. I buy a coffee in Perth, it impacts the local café, their staff and families, the dairy farmers who provide the milk, the truck drivers who ship the milk, the distributors of said milk, as well as the whole coffee bean production line, from grower right through to roasters, wherever they may be in the world. A lot of things need to happen for me to have my morning pick me up.
If things work well, then people are positively impacted. If they don’t, people get pushed aside.
Generosity also has unintended consequences, both bad and good. Sometimes by doing something that you think is the best thing in that moment, may do some good, but also creates another problem/jellyfish. It doesn’t mean that we stop being generous. Instead, we grow in wisdom as we give so we can learn how to create the best possible outcomes with the least jellyfish. It takes time and experience, and humility to acknowledge we don’t know everything yet.