Punctuated Equilibrium

One semester late into my college experience I was left with an hour void between classes.

Being a commuter student, I was not afforded the luxury of napping in a dorm room for that hour and my choices were heading over to the student union building to consume junk food from vending machines or to walk the halls of the Science and Engineering building looking for distraction or entertainment.

One afternoon I decided just to walk those hallowed halls looking for that distraction or entertainment and being tired, or perhaps bored, I sat down on a bench outside of a room where a class in molecular genetics was being taught.

I listened surreptitiously to the lecture going on inside and with each passing moment I felt my interest level in this foreign topic increasing.

When the class was over I threaded my way against the countercurrent flow of hurriedly-exiting students to introduce myself to the professor. She was comforted to learn that I was from just across the building in the Chemical Engineering department and she was amused enough with my  interest in her field to invite a student on the fast track to a career of watching over the production of soaps, detergents and other pedestrian chemical consumables to her class.

My invitation was moderated by her request that I not ask questions or disrupt the class. To make a long story short, I couldn’t keep from asking questions and at the end of the semester I gave a presentation on my ideas for how genetics and DNA worked from an engineering perspective. I guess I disrupted a little bit.

After that presentation this professor suggested I switch majors to her field. This was interesting, yet unrealistic, given my higher calling to provide plenty of soaps, detergents and other pedestrian chemical consumables to mankind.

Forty years later I find myself imagining the causality and mechanisms for my genetic alleles to be crossing over and exchanging their DNA components causing my cancers- almost like a person crossing their legs then finding their left shin attached to their right thigh and vice versa upon uncrossing. I wonder if I made the right decision all those years ago to go make soap.

Now, should I just walk the halls looking for distraction or entertainment or grab a Snicker bar from the vending machine on my way out?

Or, just accept my punctuated equilibrium.

©2020, JP New Media, All rights reserved