It takes the corpse flower about 17 years to bloom. Cicadas come down from their trees in about the same time period. It takes a human life about this same time to even begin the process of maturation. It took Leonardo Da Vinci nearly 17 years to complete the Mona Lisa — and he thought himself a failure the entire time.
There are indeed events, flash events, that instantly change the landscape of the Earth, or our lives, or both. The hurricanes and earthquakes and tsunamis.
But even after these events, time must take its course to recalibrate and realign to a shifted landscape. For, most of life is slowly unfolding. It is going through its half-life decay as things slowly erode and imperceptibly shift.
The human life seems so short — butterflies flitting about the stolid wind for only but a day. Or maybe it’s our time that seems short, particularly when compared to the majestic mountain or the vibrant pulse of our very Earth.
But our perspective seems myopically proportional to our own lifespan. Perhaps the red giant star laments that it is only able to blaze brightly for 300 million years, quietly envious of the humble suns able to shine for billions.
A great many things happen during the human life. Flashes of an infinity of teachers who look into the eyes of youth with hope and promise, and assure them that they can become all that they dream of. And some of them do.
For in the sum of our lives, as many things happen as are capable of happening for a single individual.
That’s because there are many hours that go unacknowledged. Many minutes that happily sing in the background or hum melancholy hymns as they quietly pass, never invited into the arena of our awareness. Yet they pass without judgment and without complaint.
And while they may not have been witnessed, they were most certainly there.
It’s in those hours that life flowers. It’s in the slow, quiet moments of a warm embrace expanded over thousands of minutes that a bond between two people is forged. It’s in those silent hours that people find healing and inner strength from the emotional wounds of life’s specters. It’s in those lip-zipped, humble, unassuming hours that our wildest creativity is unleashed: where we delve down into the endless expanse of our being and summon the energy that slowly chips away at the inner mountain of mastery.
Things can indeed shift in an instant, but true transformation takes tiny eternities.
And in that time, we must do the one thing we never designed to do: sit in quiet patience.
We must listen. And feel. And trust. Quietly doing our work when it’s required, and doing otherwise when it’s not.
I must wait for my 17 years. Or 17 minutes. And so must you.
But when that day comes…a glorious flurry of earned celebration it shall be.
A work of art. A beautiful bloom. A wizening soul.
And those are worthy of wild celebration indeed.