Field-Improvised Measuring Device

Years ago on a camping trip when the kids were little, my friend GB, a career service member, introduced me to the idea that when you need to measure something, you don’t actually need a tape measure. Anything can become a field-improvised measuring device.

I think we were digging dish pits, so the actual size didn’t really matter very much, but it’s nice when they’re consistent, and we wanted to measure. Ultimately our dish pits ended up being at least a Mary, but not quite an Anna, so about 2.5 feet. The kids thought it was great fun to be the ruler, and their hilarity lightened the load of the digging.

The concept of an FIMD came to mind last week when I had to buy new dishwasher soap. It comes in packages of 25 pods, and I use one each day. As I got to the bottom of the box, I was surprised by the passage of time.

I have been here 3 boxes of dishwasher soap and 1 bar of shampoo.

I have been here the yarn shop clerk can spell my name.

I have been here 2 transitions of season and 1 haircut.

I have been here the cheesemonger knows my favorite.

I have been here 13 inches of a row-a-day blanket project.

I have been here more than half a notebook.

The nature of my work as a professor and the bureaucratic challenges of immigration have kept my attention very much on the present. What do I need to do now, next, this week to meet my obligations? What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?

That kind of persistent focus on immediate deadlines breeds a kind of frenetic energy that is not entirely healthy. It has been nice this week of the Western Christmas holiday to pause and to reflect on how we measure a life.

1 Comment

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  1. Christine V Moore December 27, 2021 — 1:38 pm

    I use my thumb to measure inches. I use a dollar bill to measure 6″.

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