Writer’s Corner: Things look different from the view down here

Writer’s Corner: Things look different from the view down here
December 30
05:51 2022

By Rebecca Holder

I’m shrinking. In high school I was a proud 5 feet, 6 ½ inches tall, 5’ 7” if no one was looking. At my annual physical recently, the nurse thumped the metal bar on my head and chirped, “Five, five.” One and a half inches of me gone! Vanished! Where did I go?

At home, I looked in the mirror and realized the hereditary dowager’s hump of my grandmother, which so graciously skipped over my mother, now rested on my shoulders, along with, depending on the hour, the weight of the world. All of this dismissed as a natural process of aging by a physician still standing tall. 

While the measurement confirmed I was shrinking, there have been other signs. My hairline is receding like an eroding beachfront. Female pattern hair loss – another genetic gift from my mother’s side. As a child, I remember visiting my great-aunt Gladys, my eyes always trained on the battlefront. Her forehead was slowly marching toward her crown, felling her hair in a relentless push to the summit. Now, each morning I face a sink full of my own fallen soldiers. Cowards!

Actually, the physical shrinkage is a Johnny-come-lately. It was at work several years ago that I first noticed the lessening of me. Though more experienced and credentialed than most of my co-workers, my assignments became … less, my inclusion at meetings … less, my opportunities … less, and my value … less. My thoughts, ideas and input too small and insignificant to consider. Like my doctor, management considered this normal – after all, people age out of the workforce. It wasn’t their fault that I had a problem with the when and how of it.

And the shrinking continues – some of it self-inflicted now, I’m afraid. I’ve stopped posting as much. I’ve unsubscribed from countless online groups and newsletters. I’ve unfollowed a legion of people. Purposeful decisions regarding my social media presence, but a shrinking nonetheless.

It’s a disquieting feeling to shrink. To be both aware and unaware of it, powerless to stop or control it, yet actively engaging in the shrinking. I spend many an hour pondering my bent over, balding and boring Cheshire Cat fate, slowly fading away with an inane smile on my face.

But as I’ve grown smaller, my world’s grown larger, or so it seems. I think when we’re younger, our world is too filled with ourselves. We stand aloof, surveying our kingdom, and stride confidently across the green fields of life, paying little mind to the grass beneath our feet or what’s over and around us.

Now, in my lilliputian state, I’ve returned to my childhood, or more precisely, a sensation remembered from that long ago time. A sense that mountains were taller, rivers deeper, and skies bluer. That every thought, word and deed was new to me, worthy of my boundless curiosity and microscopic exploration.

When you shrink and become so much smaller, you realize the world has a vastness that’s pulled toward you with magnifying-glass clarity – the once-amalgamated mass is gone and you’re privy to refined details and subtle nuances, an intimacy of understanding previously unknown. I no longer see fields of green, but individual blades of grass, infinite in number and each one unique. I marvel at their stature, the miracle of their place and purpose, the very necessity of their being.

And seeing this spectacle up close, I shrink just a bit more – awed by the view from down here.

Rebecca Holder is a member of Winston-Salem Writers and enjoys writing poetry, short stories and memoir.

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