Change happens slowly, for the most part, but sometimes it happens in an instant. Jim McClellan has this prospect.
A geological time scale spans billions of years. But an interesting thing about geological history is that some changes are not gradual at all, but instantaneous. Like the impacts of asteroids or massive waves triggered by falling glaciers, they are suddenly and forever changing the Earth. I think that kind of rapid change on an otherwise long evolutionary scale can happen in more subtle ways as well.
Like growing up, for example.
The summer after ninth grade, I worked at the New York Hospital in Manhattan. I was a volunteer and did various jobs. One day, I was sent to an upper floor to pick up a package from a lab. I handed the requisition to the woman sitting behind the desk, and as she picked up the package, I noticed a hospital poster on the wall. Just the hospital building, against a bright blue sky. “Wow,” I laughed. “Did someone make a New York hospital poster?” The woman placed the package in my courier bag, but as she returned it to me, she said quietly, “Some people think this is the most beautiful place in the world.
Although I didn’t fully grasp it until a few years later, those words pierced my teenage armor, sending a shock wave of new cracks and contours through my brain. I suddenly knew where I was and that this place really mattered. I knew every doctor, nurse and staff member understood this. And I knew – in a way that no conference could ever convince me – that in a place built to save lives, rude behavior is shameful. A glacier had been dislodged and the gorge it carved into my mind was permanent.
Sometimes the road in front of me feels full of brick walls, and it’s easy to let frustration stifle hope. But it’s also helpful to remember that while change is often slow or not enough, sometimes it can come suddenly and rearrange the world as we know it, sometimes for the better.
With a perspective, I’m Jim McClellan.
Jim McClellan is the co-founder of a logistics software company focused on the wine industry. He lives in Marin.