Today’s topic is catastrophe theory. Catastrophe theory is a mathematical explanation for what we observe in nature. I can explain the concepts without wandering off into the esoteric world of symbols that seems to have the amazing ability to turn most people’s minds to a useless mass of jell-o.

I promise this will be painless and in the end worth your while.

Basically catastrophe theory says that major events are preceded by thousands of imperceptibly small steps. You take 10,000 tiny steps toward a cliff. The last step sends you over the cliff.

So you wonder what happened because you didn’t do anything differently that last step than the 9,999 steps before but this time you had a completely different result. So now you are at the bottom of the cliff.  Catastrophe theory also explains why you can’t take a tiny step back and get back to the top of the cliff. You now have to take the long way around.

Let’s put this into a practical day-to-day context. Little by little your car begins to bug you. You decide you now want a new car. You don’t buy a lug nut or two each day and then an air filter and then a tire or two. You wait until you get to the point via a complex mix of factors and then go buy a new car which is the event.

The decision to get married is preceded by a series of steps beginning with some childhood experiences and observations, small daily changes in hormones that we call puberty and a growing interest in a more permanent arrangement with that special person and then the marriage which is an event. You don’t get married a little at a time.

Some have discovered that once you take that last step to marriage, you can’t just back up a little bit and have the marriage go away. You have to take the long way around.

I said all of that to get to this point. You have to understand that your current health situation is based on years of small steps and then comes the event or crisis. I can’t tell you how many times people have said that their back is totally out and all they did was bend down to pick up a piece of paper or something else equally as trivial. Now you understand that this event was preceded by thousands of imperceptible steps culminating in the back spasm event or crisis.

Once the crisis occurs it may or may not be possible to get back to a pre-crisis state. One thing is for sure, it will take much persistence and diligence to maximize the recovery.

My purpose for writing this is so you have a better idea of why life works like it does and what you can do about it. This might give you pause when you are choosing some behavior with the potential to lead you toward a cliff of some sort.

Some health examples might be eating trans fats for 40 years (check that Snickers label) and then the heart attack at age 41 with no real warning symptoms. Maybe you didn’t know you were gluten sensitive and then one day you can’t get out of bed because of a rheumatoid arthritis attack. You love your ice cream and you slowly put on weight over the years but generally feel just fine until one day you notice a small cut on your toe won’t heal. Welcome to diabetes.

You might take an inventory from time to time to determine which direction your small steps might be taking you. Most of the time you won’t have a warning track to advise you of the impending doom.