This age of instant gratification also works in reverse: Whether results are good or bad, if we don't see them immediately or looming in the near future, we don't believe anything is happening.
Man-made activities that affect the world environment have happened and are happening so gradually that it is easy to deny any effect, especially if we do not want to make changes.
We may admit that our previous warm winter will cause more fleas and flies, but not that it may be a warning of global warming; after all, we've had unusually cold winters, also.
Gaining a few pounds does not make one obese but adding pounds every year will certainly change the sizes of one's clothing.
When I was in my 40's, my doctor commented that I had gained three pounds within the last year and I answered flippantly: "Well, that's not enough to cause concern."
"OK," he responded. "Just do that every year and watch what happens."
Forty years didn't add 120 pounds, but it has surely made a big difference (pun intended).
Have you noticed the lack of large gardens in our area during the last few decades? Do you see a corresponding decrease in the amount of fresh vegetables we eat?
Gradually, a diet of fast foods and an occasional salad has replaced the green beans and peas and cabbage that once filled our tables.
Television warnings have reminded us that no youngster deliberately sets out to become a drug user or alcoholic or chronic cigarette smoker. A "just this once" multiplies into addiction - and it may not even be gradual.
Those little sprigs grew into saplings without proclaiming their intention of becoming trees along the roadside and shoreline, trees that have almost obliterated the lake view that I have enjoyed for years.
Political races and criticism of opponents have always been somewhat heated, but the obvious twisting of facts, even blatant lies and purposeful gridlocks have been simmering so long that the political landscape, like western wildfires, is ablaze with distrust, even disgust.
All gradual changes are not headed for disaster, however. Some are just observations and some can be gratifying.
We are often astonished to receive graduation notices or wedding invitations from those nieces, nephews and neighbors who just yesterday were on tricycles. And the toddlers who were barely able to clap hands, lisp nursery rhymes, and march in time are suddenly singing, swaying and dancing on stage to tropical music in a beautiful Junior Theater production.
Most of the individuals featured in Doug King's photographic exhibit of some "Faces of Dawson County" never considered themselves doing great things to make the county a better place. They just worked at something they considered worth doing and are pleased when their efforts turned out well.
They, including me, are surprised and appreciative that somebody noticed.
Seeds are continuously being scattered. We need to be aware of what they are and how they are growing.
Results, both deplorable and desirable, may be amazing.
Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.