As I walked down the beach this afternoon my eye caught the juxtaposition of the massive cliff walls and a small stack of beach pebbles. I found myself thinking about magnitude–the contrast of big and small.
I chatted on the phone earlier today with someone from an organization not directly related to education. She was describing the struggles they have in their organization with clear, concise communication of complicated ideas. The same struggles we are always talking to teachers about…from kindergarten to college. Add the equity piece, the fact that some people have tremendous access and opportunity–often based on financial status and skin color–and the dilemma goes from a stack of small stones to an enormous cliff that crumbles and slips at unexpected moments.
Those cliffs keep me up at night, my efforts dwarfed by their magnitude, overwhelming me with the impossibility of the lift. I find myself drawn to the pebbles. They fit perfectly in my hand as I rub my fingers over their surface, smoothing and soothing as I follow the path nature left before me. I pick one up, adding it my carefully balanced stack, wondering how many I can carry before they topple.
Luckily, I’ve come to the place in my career where I don’t have to decide between the cliffs and the pebbles. I try my best to exert influence where I have the agency to do things that matter…even if they only matter to a few. But my eye remains on the issues of magnitude…maybe if I keep stacking those small stones near the small stones of my colleagues and allies our stacks will grow to solutions of magnitude. Those nightmares that keep me up at night will transform into dreams come true. Maybe this art I found on the beach today is a talisman for the future.