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Step Right Up!


It's common these days to run across the word 'quantum', one of those terms that has made the leap from the scientific world out to use by the general population. Although I can't vouch for it's 'real' scientific meaning, in common use these days it refers to the phenomenon of things changing by steps, measurable increments, rather than in a smooth gradual manner.

More and more, I am coming to believe that most changes do take place this way, with nothing much seeming to take place for some time, and then a sudden burst of activity and change.

I had occasion to think about this recently, during one of my exhibitions. It was fairly quiet in the gallery one morning, and I stood looking up at the wall where dozens of my woodblock prints were displayed. All the prints from the past seven years hung in front of me, row upon row of them, and I was easily able to trace the development of my skills by looking along from oldest to newest.

And yes, it did seem that my progress has been coming in quite visible steps. I'm not sure if the casual viewer could notice it, but I can clearly see those places where there is a sharp transition from one 'level' to the next. This started me thinking about other aspects of my life, and how they too may be affected by this sort of phenomenon. My Japanese language ability for example, seems to be progressing in a similar fashion. I struggle and struggle to communicate with the people I meet, but do find that every once in a while, things seem to have become suddenly easier. I recognize more of the words being spoken to me, and am able to find more appropriate responses. Whether this effect is real or not, or just something imaginary, I'm really not sure.

But in one area at least, I am convinced that changes take place in quantum leaps ... and big ones at that! That same day at the gallery, I took a break for a few minutes to go to the washroom, and as I stood there in front of the mirror, was astonished to see a wide swath of white hair ... in a place where I know there had been none earlier in the day when I had washed my face ... This change had apparently taken place over the course of just a few hours. There was no question about it, the evidence was there staring me in the face.

I suppose though, that all these things tie together. My carving skills are making large leaps upward. My language skill is making large leaps upward. So of course, I shouldn't be surprised if my physical condition also takes large leaps ...

I feel more ... er ... more ... um ... Yes, that's it! I feel more dignified with every step!