Growing pains, or a lack thereof


Millie Alt

My view as I write, in envy of my plants and the trees out my window

I have stopped growing.

In the physical sense. While my mind may mature, my corporeal state is now forever stagnant. Humans are not trees, after all. With only four limbs and limited space, humans are infinitely fixed. Trees grow forever.

I have stopped growing.

I will always be this tall. I will always see the world from this level, from this exact point of view. Behind my eyes, my soul may change, but those eyes will never again sketch the height they wish to be, chasing homes, chasing mountains.

It is a sudden, tipsy realization. An epiphany of sorts, unnatural for its melancholy, unorthodox for its repetition. A spark followed by a storm: on a run, on the verge of sleep. I realize again now, writing these very words, that I will never grow again.

The peculiar hope for growth—experienced by small children in earnest and by larger adults gradually—is like no other. A hope for rain, a hope for sweets, a hope for love; these are temporary. Growth is forever. But growth has ended.

As a wave beats the shore, wearing away bit by bit, we grow, seeing the world a little taller each day. But there is always more sand, and for that, I am jealous of the ocean.

The plants that sit by my side, the trees that stand out my window. For hundreds of years, they will grow, propelled only by the gentle sunlight that flits lightly along their leaves.

It is a sudden, tipsy realization. An epiphany of sorts, unnatural for its melancholy, unorthodox for its repetition.

I have lived for half a second in comparison. And yet, I will never grow again.

I beseech the sunlight to grant me the power of the trees. Not a particularly magic power, but simply that of eternal growth.

I have stopped growing, and even as I feel the same sunlight that touches the trees that surround me dance along my skin, I experience the anguish of generations on my shoulders. Millions—billions—of people have lived for one second and have grown for less.

For what is life if not growth?

I whisper assurances into my skin. I will grow. Each day, I will change even as I do not. My soul will mature behind eyes that remain at the same height.

Music will sound different to the same ears. Food will taste different in the same mouth. People will look different with the same eyes. Spring will come again, and the first scent of rain on cut grass will smell different even as it is identical to the year before, and the year before, and the year before.

I will love and lose and live and I will change. I will grow.

And as I write, another epiphany strikes. Roots grow under the dark soil, unseen, unnoticed, but there nonetheless. Growth nonetheless. My roots will extend with my love, my life. Everywhere I live I will place roots. I will grow.

I grew every day for sixteen years. Now I will grow every day for the rest of my life. Same eyes, new soul.

I will never stop growing.