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Like bees drawn to honey, I can’t resist a call for a metaphor, though this might take a few twists and turn to get to MYFest.

A few weeks ago, Laura Czernieicz posted a call for theories of change

While I don’t have a deep reach for theories it struck a chord with ideas i picked up in my graduate studies of Geology. I got to be a fan of Stephen J Gould’s use of every day metaphors to discuss evolution and paleontology (I can still recall the concept of neotony explained through the changes over time in the way Walt Disney drew Mickey Mouse).

Gould wrote too about how the imperfect fossil record still provided enough evidence to overturn Darwin’s idea of evolutionary change happening slowly over great expanses of time. He was a Gradualist. But mass extinctions, the most well known being the boundary of Cretaceous/Jurassic eras (when dinosaurs bit the dust) indicated mostly the long periods passed with little happening, and major changes took place over shorter time periods or what I learned was called punctuated equilibrium.

This emerged in some grad school research, where without too much more tangentials here my advisor and I attempted to use the physics of how water flowed in river channels to a kind of volcano flow down mountain sides.

All leading finally to a metaphor, the way those rapids are formed in river flow in canyons. Water flowing down a river builds up energy and when the flow is constructed by a narrowing of the walls or a place where the water gets shallow, it dissipates energy as a standing wave or what is technically a hydraulic jump.

2015/365/92 The Mighty Colorado

my photo of the Colorado River at Lees Ferry, CC-BY

i was fortunate in my geology grad school days to partake in a 10 day river raft trip through the Grand Canyon, maybe that was 1988 (?). Even in a pre-internet era it was an unforgettable experience to be completely cut off from the outside world. But it also was a lived experience in this idea of long periods of calm quiet floating and then shorter exciting interruptions when we approached the rapids. More of the trip is the former than the latter, and thus this river trip memory is how I think of change too in our field. Long periods where not much seems to happen (or things operate at a quiet pace) and then BOOM! External events (COVID, war, heat waves) disrupt everything.

But also for my MYFest was like this for me personally as my schedule did not have much room for a lot of the sessions, but when I could dip in, it was high energy.

If you ever get an opportunity to take a long river trip, take it! I can still sometime close my eyes and feel the calmness of the float sections and the perspective of how tiny we were compared to those magnificent canyon walks.