Monday, September 13, 2010

Literal Progress

I have about a hundred other things I could and should be doing looking me in the face from the calendar on my wall, the list on the desk, the missed call registry on my phone screen... shut up. Give me a minute.

We talk of progress - in my country we love it, obsess over it, worship it at times. Progress is a word that by definition  becomes enshrouded in shades of grey and ambiguity. People throw the endorsement at all sorts of undeserving things. An unsustainable leap forward in industry riddled with opportunity costs to environmental, social and cultural entities is still called progress, at least until the shine wears off and the endeavor falls on its face and the critics flock like vultures to the remains. A circle progresses in an endless cycle, but does it really get anywhere? Momentum cannot always be considered progress, not all steps forward are headed in a worthwhile direction.

 I once heard that "if it isn't sustainable, it isn't real." Take that qualifier to progress and it truly shifts the wheat from the chaff. So, I've sought a more solid, consistent word for the principle of true progress and chosen literacy.

 Literacy is an applied, sustainable, real progression - an individual forming a closer relationship with the world around them through words, understanding, enlightenment. It often doesn't come easily - the costs are harrowing, sacrifices poignant, experience real and deeply human.

I believe in literacy. By that I mean I give my life, my energy, my passion and my blood for it. It's the principle behind the metaphors in my life - why I climb, why I seek education, why I love people, why I invest in relationships and experiences and life itself.  And while illiteracy may not be the most inimical barrier to true progress, it's one I'll happily kick in the teeth all the days of my life.

So here I am. Back in class for the semester and blessed with an internship with an organization that supports literacy as clearly as any, learning the skills I need to contribute to its crusade.

Still tired, still overbooked. But I'm where I need to be. In the moments that I realize this is tangible progress, these things I am building and will be able to share - conviction burns like fire clear and bright in me, and I forget the costs. I am content, alive and here.


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