A Measure of Sunflowers


We all recognize it when we see it – a series of short, horizontal hashmarks, irregularly spaced, graduating vertically up the edge of a doorway.  Most homes have a spot where children have stood, still and tall and hopeful, to answer the question, “Let’s see how tall you are?”  In our apartment, it was the kitchen doorjamb, and it was a competitive event.  We not only wanted to see how tall we were, the constant vexation – how much taller is she than me? – loomed over the proceedings.  I remember how we would turn to look, consulting the wall where my father had written “PAM” in his distinctive all caps hand next to the line a good distance below mine.  Still, as our two heights crept upwards, it became harder to remember which line belonged to which twin, just as the thrill of seeing our feet and inches faded in light of more complicated aspirations.

It occurred to me this morning, what I could use right now is that doorway, with pencil and knife scrapes dividing the increments of change, always forward with time, inevitably growing.  The growth of our bodies comes to an apparent halt, a camouflage of stasis that lulls us into believing we have become what we were meant to be.  For a long, long time, even as the body ages, we resemble ourselves – only plumper, stiffer, grayer.

But inside, in all the invisible places of heart and soul, change accelerates to a break neck speed.  Change drives ahead in ways no one can measure, and I change yet again before I have even caught up to what I last thought was true about me.  It’s that happiness in the flow of becoming different – of growing taller – that I long to feel.  No 6 year old ever says, “Gee, I was I was still only 3 feet 4.”  She always says, “Let’s see if I am taller today.”

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