Certain chemical reactions require a catalyst in order to go. The catalyst is often something fairly strong and non-reactive, like platinum. You can put the chemicals together into a beaker and nothing happens. Stir them, heat them, and nothing happens. Slip in a bit of platinum maximized for surface area, and boom!
When you are done, there are completely new chemicals now, but the platinum is virtually the same.
If I’m completely honest, I’ll admit that I sometimes wish someone would come into my life and save me, to make the changes that I want happen. In fact, I’ve “assigned” a few special people that role. Yet when I say “you saved my life” their reply is generally “No, you did all the work yourself; I simply acted as a witness.” Well then, I can at least feel gratitude for the catalysis, right?
Because I realize that sometimes the reaction isn’t between chemicals, its the change in a single molecule. That molecule comes on over and sets down onto the surface of this catalyst to which it is suited, because somehow there are just the right touchpoints to hold onto, and from this anchored place, the molecule rearranges itself into something new. It might eject a few atoms, or pick up a few bits and pieces of the flotsam and jetsom floating about in the solution, but mostly it completes the process with its starting parts, just new and different. Rearranged.
This process is not without its costs. Energy is always involved. It must be exhausting for that sheet of metal to sit there all day, getting groped, watching all this transformation occur while it is left inert. Quiet. Negative and positively charged particle swimming around bombarding it, to nearly no effect. It takes a lot of humility to ask for this kind of service from a loved one, and I’m proud that I’ve had the courage to ask.
Profoundly dear friends and lovers have let me set down on them to expunge my truths, while the solutions to my problems poured out of me, pooling on their cheeks, their pillows, into the palm of their hands. Given my inate lack of self esteem, my inclination has been to assume that this would give these loved ones every reason to look at my mess and walk away. But when I’ve breathed through the vulnerability of this experience, I’ve consistently found people who have the ability to hold me steady, let me flail about like some kind of butterfly biting open the cocoon, or more like that creature from Men In Black climbing out of the Earl suit. It is not a beautiful process, and yet, they still call me pretty.
So, it was long held that the catalyst was completely unaffected by the job, but this has been found to be untrue. There was a big hub-bub during the Clinton administration where 2 scientists in the Southwest thought they’d discovered Cold Fusion. They had some platinum, and some juice and lasers and other such, and hydrogen as starting ingredients, and irrefutably detected Helium after the reaction was over. Hydrogen plus Hydrogen equals energy and Helium equals cold fusion. Hazah! Upon reexamination of their work, other scientists confirmed that there was indeed heat and helium, but the helium had been there at the start, hiding in tiny interstitial spaces in the surface of the platinum. Beautiful and exotic and undetected helium atoms. The hydrogen in the soup managed to liberate that helium, not make it. It was there from the beginning, it was liberated, in a way that now allows it to be do what it is meant to do. Not sure where the metaphor is there, but I think it is a longing to believe that these tribemates have gained something out of this process of serving as my catalyst.
You know who you are. Thank you for letting me set down on you. Its quite a habit I have no intention of quitting.