The Infinite Possibilities of a Single Sheet of Paper

Amy Rees
February 3, 2016

Paper is the ultimate inspiration catcher. Possibility, by the ream.

When you're four, every sheet of paper is the proverbial blank slate, ready to be filled with your marks, colors, letters, shapes, mind's projection.

When you are thirty-four, you're more likely to get all caught up in making a to-do list or feeling shamed by the Great American Novel that is not spilling out from you all down that paper now or thinking "um, I don't know what I can draw...." So, let's stick with four-year-olds, instead.

You're four, and you have the gift of a piece of paper. Crumple it—it's a snowball in the summertime! Fold it—it's a rocket zooming through outer space! Draw your dreams—for real.

Write a letter, knowing that when a piece of real, paper mail comes for you it feels like a present. Perhaps your letter says thank you, or even I'm sorry, because those are sometimes more easily (and sincerely) written than said, since you're four.

Invite someone over with that piece of paper. Seems much more like a party when there is paper doing the asking. Put a sticky little piece of paper in the upper right corner, and drop it in the mail. Better give Mom a piece of paper for her to track the RSVPs.

Paper makes things forever—that's why Dad makes photo albums and Mom keeps a baby journal. And paper makes things a secret; that's why presents come in wrapping paper.

Fold paper and it's a flower or a shape or a crisply pleated accordion for you to play. Doesn't your uncle know some funny trick about folding a dollar bill? How old do you have to be before he'll let you try on the bill itself? Funny thing that some paper—money, stamps—make grown-ups say "oh, be careful!" when it's just paper, right?

Our neighbor has silhouettes framed on her wall, and she says they are photographs without a camera. Must mean paper makes magic, then.

Paper holds time, too. The calendar counts down the days until the next full moon, school holiday or visit from Nana.

Mom says "hold on, let me write it down" a lot—about things to get from the grocery store or when share day at preschool is or funny things you say, when you're four. Paper holds memory, too.

There's so much—we're really just getting started. First, you take a piece of paper...

From the Parents

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