June 6, 2011

The Paradox of Progress

"It was all I could do to get through each moment, and each moment felt like an endless hour, yet days slipped silently past." --Elisabeth Tova Bailey, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

The kids like watching "So You Think You Can Dance." A couple of days ago, Jelly requested "watch dancing" so I shouted down the hall, "Moe, do you want to watch dancing?" He ran down the hall and plopped on the couch. A minute later, it hit me. He understood that.

More and more, Moe seems to be listening and comprehending. He can follow simple commands, like "sit down" or "let's go." This progress seemed to have taken both years of therapy and happened all of a sudden. This is the paradox of progress.

If you watch a snail creep across the ground, especially from a few feet away, you hardly notice it is moving. It seems like it would take forever for it to get anywhere. But if you look away for a few minutes, that snail will have made progress, and perhaps gone farther than you expected.

So many endeavors are like this, from weight loss to a child's growth and development. The changes happen almost imperceptibly. But then one day, you're packing away old clothes and replacing them with a new size.  Or your son starts understanding the world around him a bit more.

The progress is there. Sometimes we just have to take a step back to notice.

This post was inspired by The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Baily. I was given a copy of the book as part of From Left to Write book club, but was not otherwise compensated for this piece. You can read other members' posts inspired by the book on book club day, June 7, at From Left to Write.

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