Growing Taller

My four-year-old grandson, Ellis, seems set on the idea that a person grows taller as he or she grows older. He is concerned that somehow I haven’t kept up, since his father, almost half my age, is considerably taller. It reminds me that when I was about his age, I believed that a person was born to his or her station in life. In other words, a mother was born a mother, and a kid would always be a kid. My imagination had no way of conceptualizing anything that was to come.

As we grow older, we still can only assess the future through past experiences. We judge what we’ll be able to do tomorrow by what we’d been able to do yesterday, and when we’re faced with a long separation from our creative endeavors for any reason we tend to look at that space of time as an indication that we’re losing ground. Is that emptiness more indicative now of what we’re presently capable?  Will the spark and excitement ever return?

Ellis is impatient to grow taller. He stands on step stools and big rocks and rides on his father’s shoulders. The view from such high places is surely further enhanced by the way in which he keeps his eyes wide open and his questions coming, There are times, of course, when he wants to only deal with those things that are familiar, when he wants to just run around, or when he needs a nap.

I’ve come to believe that it’s entirely possible to grow taller in a similar way – not by climbing on someone’s shoulders, but by continuing to seek out new perspectives and experiences and by valuing all those empty days, freely chosen or not, as rest periods during a growth spurt. If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it’s just my new perspective on those fallow times I spoke about in an earlier post.

(The following poem was written a few years ago before Ellis’s verbal skills came into play.)


Ellis by the Inner Harbor

The sky a blaze of gulls

your tiny hand signing

bird over and over,

as if heaven has descended

and not one of us

is sufficiently aware.