Count Your Whorls

I learn this morning that you can tell the age of a pine tree by its number of “whorls.” One child stops in the woods on the walk to school, and she counts the circles of branches that shoot out from a tiny pine tree.  The top layer of branches is one whorl and represents one year of growth.  The next layer represents another.  This baby pine tree boasts seven whorls, so it’s been growing for seven years.  It stands as tall as my daughter. 

“Next year, they’ll be eight whorls!”  The children, wide-eyed, pause and look down upon the tree. 

I’m struck by the slow growth of this little pine that’s witnessed our journey to school all these years.  Now, we witness the pine tree, mark its age, and incorporate that growth into the whole system of things that grow and change about us.

These things matter so much to children.  Just last night, at Neighborhood Fitness Group, the children always gather to record their growth on my kitchen wall.  They inevitably check, every single week, if they’ve grown even a little bit. 

They record each each others’ heights, and they claim they’ve really grown each week.  The wall, smeared and nearly illegible, tempts me every Saturday morning as I stand beside it with my cleaning bucket.  I just can’t clean the wall.

We have to count our whorls.  And, even though I’m no longer getting taller, I want to count my own growth somehow–visibly, publicly.  Am I growing kinder?  More patient?  More wise?

Let me retain that child-like quality of marking my own growth.  There’s something to celebrate; there’s something to note here.  

Living with flair means I count whorls.  We’re growing–changing–and we must witness it.

Journal:  How do I measure my own growth?  What tool might I use to track spiritual and emotional growth?

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  1. First, I really like the journal idea, though I don't often respond to the question but today I am. There is at least one country that, instead of a GDP, has a GDH – how happy are its citizens. For the USA, founded partially on the freedom of the pursuit of happiness, it would be nice to be able to quantify it. Now, happiness, to me, does not mean giddily joyful all the time; it is a settled, contentment that all is well. Second, wonderful post.

  2. I'm kind of stumped by the journal questions today. All my growth seems to be imprinted on my mind so that I “see” who I was at every age and how I am now, and can make comparisons that way. (It's like those timelines that show the history of a place, person, or thing by a line, with the earliest date on the left, and proceeding to the right, with highlights by year.)

    I hope you get some other comments on this one – I'd like to hear how others do this.

  3. Fantastic reminder, and strangely timely for someone half way across the globe.

    I'm going to write my dreams and goals down (how that is an effort in itself to me), and if I can find an example from the previous years somehow.. comparing the size, or really the heartbeat of my dream – I possibly can gauge.

    It's an attempt. =) Thanks for flair, everyday, Heather.

  4. I evaluate myself throughout the year, but maybe a week or a month before my birthday I look over my previous year to see if how much I have grown , I reflect back on areas that I know can be or are problem areas for me, check to see if I expressing more fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, meekness, kindness, etc), and I being more diligent, and I procrastinating less, am I accomplishing goals and things on my to do list/bucket list/dream list, etc Basically the idea is to make sure that I am not the same person I was last year, but this can be done and is done at times weekly or daily but not on such a large scale, like daily I want to be better than I was the day before.

  5. Anonymous – I like your idea. I've done this at the end of the year, in preparation for the new year, but I like the thought of doing this before each birthday even more; it seems more meaningful.