The Slow Unfolding of Masterpieces

Reflections from the desert.

The Slow Unfolding of Masterpieces

I just spent a week in the Utah backcountry paddling 47 miles down Labyrinth Canyon on stand-up paddleboards with two of my closest friends (photo).

The desert has this unique power to withhold its beauty until you’re feeling nearly exasperated by its grit and heat, and then it slowly releases its charms through the receding sun against a looming rock wall, the silence of the river broken by a heron cutting through the stillness, the thickness of the milky way spreading across the sky like a quilt, the lightning storm that pulses far-off clouds.

The canyon itself — with its arches, crevices, slopes, and hues — is a masterpiece that has taken millions of years to render. It was humbling to be amidst such history, and it was a reminder in the power of patience.

Whether in geology, human relationships, or in organizational culture, masterpieces take time. They unfold slowly, non-linearly, sometimes through erosion. They ask us to be patient and trust that the alchemy will run its course and exert its force.