On a recent visit to my hometown, I decided to drive by the house that I lived in from the time I was born until my family moved when I was in high school. Although some landmarks have changed in the area around my neighborhood, I managed to find it without much trouble. I instantly recognized the place, yet many aspects appeared so much different than I remembered them. The most noticeable difference was that the scale had changed completely; everything now seemed much smaller.
That long street that I often pedaled down as a kid now seemed absolutely short in my car. The houses themselves were also very small compared to what I recalled. It was as if the neighborhood had literally shrunken with age!
Time has done its work on the houses along my street and throughout the neighborhood in general. Some remain tidy, yet others are in bad need of a new family to give the structure renewed purpose. One house was in the process of being gutted for a makeover. As I eagerly approached the end of the street, I saw it. There was my house, tucked back on the lot looking well cared for, much to my relief. It too seemed quite small, especially relative to a huge magnolia tree that had literally spread across the entire front yard. While the house appeared smaller, that Magnolia Grandiflora had grown into its name and was bigger. Much, much bigger.
In the early 1950s when the house was built, a magnolia tree was planted in the center of the front yard. Presumably it was intended by my father to become a focal point over time. I can remember mowing around it and (not so fondly) raking up what seemed like millions of large leaves from it through the years. To see it now, however, was truly striking. That magnolia tree has now grown to encompass almost the entire front yard. Was my house that much smaller after all, or had the sheer size of that magnolia tree simply dwarfed it? Perhaps both.
I've spent time processing my observations since this visit. Here's what I've concluded: as a child, our worldview is confined by what we see and know at that age; scale is gauged by our size relative to the things around us. As we grow up, move away, and see other places, our worldview expands. That alone might explain why the streets and houses seem so much smaller when viewed again in context of life experiences since my childhood.
As for that Magnolia Grandiflora, however, it truly is bigger. Its life has expanded beyond the confines of its original planting. In the right situation, with the right nutrition and provided with opportunity to grow, it has flourished. A life well-lived transcends physical boundaries in nature. The same is true for people.
We can choose to live a Big Life in a Small World. Enjoy the Journey!