December 19, 2017

Looking Backward and Forward to 2018

In her book The Human Age, author Diane Ackerman contemplates time and change on a planetary scale to to explore how humanity’s relationship with earth has changed in the last several centuries. As a result, in her words:

Without meaning to, we’ve created some planetary chaos that threatens our well-being. Yet despite the urgency of reining in climate change and devising safer ways to feed, fuel and govern our civilization, I’m enormously hopeful. Our new age, for all its sins, is laced with invention. We’ve tripled our life span, reduced childhood mortality, and, for most people, improved the quality of life—from health to daily comforts—to a staggering degree. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable.

Ackerman’s words may be reassuring if you, like me, believe we are currently crossing from one epoch to another, and who see no sign that the transformative dramas unfolding in our environment, technology, geopolitics and human cultures will diminish anytime soon.

But neither will our immeasurable capabilities diminish: to create and innovate and learn new skills that help us manage uncertainty and adapt to change.

On a smaller scale, Ackerman’s words are also a good accompaniment to the crossing between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. It is good to enter a new year with enormous hope and a sense of the immensity of our collective talents.

On a smaller scale yet, I want to thank you for reading The Catalyst this year, and for the generous comments some of you have sent along the way. This will be the last Catalyst I send out for a while.  I am taking some time out to take stock of the legion of lessons I have gathered this year about what will best serve you. If you’d like to reach me, I can be reached at

In the meantime, I hope that 2018 is immeasurably joyful for you and yours.


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