I’m in a bit of a reflective space at the moment. They say (whoever “they” are) that the only constant is change, and perhaps “they” are right. (I think it was Paul Reiser who suggested that “they” is some kind of consortium responsible for pretty much everything, and is headed up by “the guy.”) The nature of change is an interesting beast. I’ve begun reading William Duggan’s new book, Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement, published by Columbia Business School. It’s a review copy that I’m supposed to talk about on my other (business) blog, but I’m quite certain I’ll be saying more about it here as well. I’m what, 20 pages in? Already it’s proving to be an excellent work, filled with insight. So far: Copernicus, a contemporary of Martin Luther, the scientific method, and the nature of breakthroughs. Scientific method says that you posit a theory, then test it. If you prove your theory, you have an achievement. Rather notably, the actual method of scientific revolution is basically the opposite: you have an achievement, and then you (or someone after you) forms a theory to explain it.
Copernicus was asked in the 1500s to help solve the problem of the calendar, which at that time was a bit in flux with some unpredictability based on the stars. He took a close look at celestial bodies and the work of many before him — mainly Ptolemy and Aristarchus — and reorganized their work to form the basis of the calendar we have today. The insight that the earth revolves around the sun actually came from Aristarchus, who died in 230BC… but it was Copernicus who stitched it all together with the help of some kind of eureka! moment. He dedicated his work to the Pope, and if I recall correctly, he saw the very first copy of it while on his deathbed, and died that day. Just how revolutionary his findings were was not to be understood for some time later, after others had weighed it and issued their own comment.
Change is like that, slowly building, slowly moving around a bend in the road when suddenly the surroundings are all different. From the road-bend you can see both perspectives, but beforehand and afterward, you have only the one… you can’t see around the bend in either direction. Such is change, and perspective. Whether it’s the growing content in your CLB or soon-to-be-CLB or whether it’s scientific discovery or a fresh look at an old business model or paradigm, it has always been this way, creeping in around you. You don’t even know what you know until the flash of insight hits you and it all drops into place. A moment of perfect clarity. One moment you’re daydreaming, and the next, your entire worldview has changed. You think differently.
Yesterday was the first anniversary of one of the toughest days of my life… an anniversary to which I was not looking forward. I was sitting at our kids’ Christmas concert, reserving seats; I was sent an hour early, any less and you’re in the cheap seats as we learned last year, newbies that we were at the time. As I was sitting there reading and responding to email on my Treo with my book at my side, it hit me. A year ago while waiting for this same concert to start, I was talking to a good friend for advice and comfort… and talking to my lawyer for advice of another kind. Literally, I was on the phone at the back of the room while people were finding seats. This year I thought of it and dashed off a little email to some new friends, commenting on the contrast. It’s been a tough year, one in which (we eventually realized) I’ve been suffering with somewhat PTSD-like symptoms. Money has been beyond tight, but God has come through with daily bread as we’ve had need. My wife commented last night that she was glad it was a year later, and asked if I was as well. “I wish it were five,” I said. I can’t put some of this past year far enough behind me.
And yet, change is in the wind. The change wrought by the crashing-around of a year ago was not the pleasant kind of eureka, but it certainly has crystallized many things for me. I’m hopeful for a better year ahead, one in which I’m more able to find some equilibrium. I’ve added a new piece to my blog sidebar: instead of showing posts from this day one and two years ago, it now also shows posts from three years ago. Three years back… who ever would have thought it? Also notable on the blog, the random “quoth” remarks are back in the comments section — but commenting has dropped off dramatically. I’m not sure if nobody can comment following that change, or if everyone is overbooked with Christmas mayhem! (Someone let me know, please!)
So change may be constant, but its rate and impact are not. Change comes slowly softly, and then crashes in all at once. I’m hoping and praying for some more pleasant all-at-once experiences this coming year. May you find those as well… but as I stitch it all together, isn’t this what Advent is all about? Isn’t this how Jesus came? Softly, quietly… a tiny baby born to an obscure family someplace in the outback. Not much pretense, pomp, and circumstance — just an unobtrusive entry onto the scene, followed by a slow growing and maturing. But then all of a sudden, everything changed.