I’ve been thinking about the process of refinement – in other words taking something tainted or faulty and making it better and more valuable through the removal of impurities or flaws. The best example in a practical sense is the process used to take raw gold from the earth which is often co-mingled with a variety of less desirable material and, through a series of steps involving intense heat, transforming it into a the lustrous metal you and I see in our jewelry or valuables. Usually, the process requires multiple evolutions of heating the gold until it reaches a molten state, then skimming the unwanted material (called dross) that collects at the top of the melted gold until all impurities are removed. The quality of the finished product is measured in karats – a karat is one part out of 24. By this measurement, then, pure gold would be 24 karats. Anything less than 24 karats, is mixed with some other metal alloy – usually designed to make the gold more functional.
I’ve been thinking about a physics concept called potential energy that has a lot of relevance to the situation we find ourselves in amidst the Covid-19 lock-down. Potential energy is simply the stored energy an object has because of its position or state. A bicycle on top of a hill, an arrow drawn back in a bow, or a skier poised to drop into a steep hill all have potential energy. Essentially, its energy that is ready to be released with some form of trigger – simple gravity, releasing the bow string, or a skier launching over the edge of a precipice. I see our great economic engine in this country and the small businesses that make it go in a similar fashion – poised to be released with the right trigger
I read something recently that left me thinking about a relatively simple phrase that I can’t seem to shake: “none of these things move me”. In other words, nothing that comes my way will move me from my foundation – not uncertainty, not fear, not instability, not even the threat of death. That’s a radical concept especially in these times when everything seems so unstable and the potential safety of our loved ones is at risk. If unchecked, uncertainty and fear can morph into a paralyzing state of hopelessness and anxiety.