building a metaphor

Sometimes I feel like progress looks something like this, where the things we build are the result of what we take away from other places, sometimes our very foundation:

Personally, I realize which day of the week it is, what must be done for class by tomorrow and what simultaneously must be done to make sure data are analyzed and papers are written. The scheduling of a day or week or semester seems to be the manipulation of one block after another, creating progress as I borrow time from other activities. Personally, I always think of this balancing act as a temporary borrowing of one resource to make space for another, but I can imagine that this can only be sustained for so long.

On bigger, more structural levels (e.g., a university, a school district, or even an entire state), I sometimes see exactly this kind of Jenga™ kind of “investment.” Short sighted and short term, many of the building blocks we put into place are just so that the very top of the structure has integrity, but sacrificing the base of the structure. I tried making this argument to my local school board a few weeks ago, but if I had the opportunity to do this again I might want to wear this t-shirt.


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