Stopping to smell the doorknobs

Posted by Courtney Elbert on January 12, 2011 

The other day I walked around our house with my 4-year-old daughter smelling doorknobs. 

“Because”, she claims, “they are stinky,” and because “they smell bad - like money smells”.  And even before I bend down to smell the first of several doorknobs, I totally know what she is talking about because I too am sensitive to that odoriferous metallic presence that I often notice in a variety of settings.   (I’ll also go ahead and confess one of my many idiosyncrasies: even just the thought of aluminum foil or aluminum foil tape makes the fillings in my teeth pulsate.)

I love that she notices the smell of doorknobs.  I love that she makes me stop to smell the doorknobs.

I love that she thinks – and sometimes thinks uniquely.  I love that during an art project at school, she made her snowman into an “elephant snowman” – rather than gave him a scarf.  I love that she sucks on chocolate to savor it, rather than takes bites.  I love that she asks me where the cold from her wet hair goes when we blow dry it.   I love that she asks me questions like: “Who is going to die first in our family?” and “Where is Heaven?”  and “Where is outer space?” and “Can we go look for Jesus in that barn over on the side of the road?”.  I love that she’s petrified of dressed up characters, yet is tougher than most kids thrice her age.  I love that she notices specific horses in pastures and is certain they are lonely, while others are not.  I love that her hair is messy and wild, and joy and spunk spring forth from her curls medusa-like.  I love that she has collected rocks for as long as she has been mobile, (and I don’t even mind much finding them in the washing machine any more).  I love that she prefers to sing, rather than say, her nightly prayers in a soprano voice that reminds me of a siren.  I love that she loves to float in the bathtub or swimming pool with her ears underwater “listening to her brain”.  I love that she wants to be a horse when she grows up.  I love that she notices things like chimneys on houses and why some houses have three chimneys and others have none.  I love that she wonders if the autumn leaves blowing in the wind are blowing up or down.  I love that she wonders when she is going to get some of her brother’s extra chromosomes, and why he won’t share his if he has extras anyhow.  

I love that she notices the smell of doorknobs.  I love that she makes me stop to smell the doorknobs.

I love that she exists in this world with a doorknob level view, and how her view is often quite different from my gaze and perspective.  I love that she inspires me to want to “stop and smell” the doorknobs…and contemplate the ephemeral or metaphysical attributes that doorknobs, or roses, or shooting stars represent.  For how, from merely one set of eyes and shoes, (or doorknobs and views) can we really begin to see a snowflake’s quiet forgiveness for one who begs it, or a stranger’s sad eyes hidden behind a brilliant smile?  How can we really begin to see cruelty in some people’s humor, hatred in some people’s smiles, ignorance in some people’s blindness, fear in some people’s actions, or truth in words intended to conceal it? How can we really begin to see the person in the crowded room who feels incomprehensible isolation or loneliness?  How can we really begin to see others “shining like the sun”? How can we really begin to see a wildflower’s hope amidst desert sands, or glimpses of Heaven and Hell in the way our world treats a little boy with an extra chromosome and a little girl who stops to smell doorknobs…


 

 

 

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