Sofie has been swimming this summer. She's always loved the water, and her natural buoyancy as a butterball baby and toddler helped in keeping her confidence. But as a three- and four-year-old, she's elongated without gaining weight, and actually having to work at staying afloat is now required. Placing her in swimming classes at the Oyster Pond this summer became necessary, along with frequent trips to the freshwater ponds, and a weekly trip to the ocean for Papa to check on her progress.
It is a constant reminder that not all learning is linear. Likewise, I bought Sofie a bike at for her birthday in March. A two-wheeler with training wheels. She was excited, but on the uneven pavement of our driveway and quiet side street, the training wheels would lift the back tire off the ground -- and she'd be left pedaling without any traction.
So I took the training wheels off, figuring that since I hadn't learn to ride a bike seriously until someone had done the same to my bike, we'd see if Sofie might do the same. Still, she hadn't quite mastered the trio of balancing, pedaling and steering yet. I put the training wheels back on this past week, but saw I could set them higher. The bike is tippy enough to let her work on balance, but not enough to allow her to fall. Non-linear progress.
Two steps forward, one step back still means you're one step ahead of where you started.
At the recent town meeting in Chatham, I went in with the belief that the result would be a splitting of the difference. Four million dollars for filling the breach would be turned down, but voters would relent on the $150,000 for studying the effects on the Pleasant Bay environment.
But that's not how it came out. Instead, Selectman Sean Summers made a simple yet compelling case that money spent on the study would just as well be flushed out the breach with the next tide. People are not shortsighted in not seeing the value of having a study that would serve as the basis of plan of action in the coming years. Rather, experience of Chatham voters is that they've been paying for study upon study upon study, and feel they have little real progress to show for it.
(Read the rest of the column here at the Cape Cod Chronicle.)