Things are looking up. And around.

I always had a sneaking suspicion that I could have been up there with the greats, if only life have worked out differently for me. If I hadn’t been prone to always hiding my light under a bushel and shying away from opportunities that came along in life. If I’d pushed myself more, shown people what I was capable of – then they’d have known my genius, seen my true talents. I know now I was right all along to think this.

Just the other day, while attempting to enjoy a moment and just ‘be’ (Yay! Mindfulness, I’m sort of doing it!) I raised my eyes skywards and thought to myself, “Looking up. That’s the key in life, just keep looking up.” Profound, non?

I really thought I’d hit on something intensely insightful. ‘Turning into a right old sage, I am’, I reflected. I figured I must do something with this. Maybe create a bit of graphic artwork, make a meme, have it printed on a t-shirt or something. But, naturally, before doing anything nowadays it is important first to Google it and check that someone’s not already done it. But, as I should have guessed, my Looking Up quote is already taken. By Snoopy. So there we have it: my genius is on a par with a cartoon beagle.

Keep oneself grounded in reality and put things in perspective

I have no idea where Charles M Schulz was coming from with that Snoopy quote, but my thinking was along the lines of: it’s imperative to keep oneself grounded in reality and put things in perspective. Especially when freaking out or in a generally foul mood. Seems to me that whenever I’m struggling mentally or emotionally, I feel trapped inside head, surrounded by my worries, hemmed in by life and it’s that sense of a lack of control that has the power to completely freak me out. It’s like forgetting how small and insignificant I am in this universe, that I should give that much of a sh*t about anything at all. Of course the thing that’s got my goat does not matter in the grand scheme of things yet still I become detached from the fact that I’m actually just experiencing a bunch of emotions that will pass and, if I can just recognise that for a second, I’ll feel better and, maybe, be in a position to tackle said worries more effectively.

Snoopy. That genius. Nearly as clever as me.

Of course we know being out of doors is good for the soul. Taking in a fantastic view, appreciating a ‘big sky’ (isn’t it always big?), knowing that one is merely a tiny dot on the face of this earth, these are intrinsically human actions so looking up at the sky and feeling instantly grounded is absolutely nothing new. But how often do we actually set out to do it? To specifically make time in our day to go out and just look up? I’ve always been awed by the sky. I love clouds. To me, they’re one of the most beautiful and pleasing things to simply watch. The Milky Way in the night sky over the Pacific Ocean is dead good. But it seems a shame to properly notice the sky only when out for the day or on holiday.

So now I’ve started doing this consciously. It takes effort to step away from the laptop or the desk or the child and go out the door (or even just by a window) and look up. Heaven knows how easy it is to stay put and look at videos of kids-falling-over-and-out-of -things on Facebook. But the effort is needed: how better to remind myself of my little place on this planet and that one day I’ll be dust blowing about, particles in the atmosphere. Not to be morbid, rather to put a full stop at the end of an angry paragraph, then be able to move on.

Reflecting on this some more, I remembered that the one time I’d felt most utterly awe-inspired in my life, I had not been looking up at all.  It was during a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. As the chopper sped across the desert scrub then over the lip of the canyon, the earth suddenly dropped away beneath me and I spontaneously burst into tears. (Yeah, yeah, I’ve always been weird – apologies to the two strangers sharing the ride that day). That sense of “Whoa. This is BIG. And I am so pathetically tiny,” was astonishing. It was a struggle to take it all in – the scale had changed and there was more to look at than my senses could cope with. My eyes were darting up, down, around trying to soak in all the miles and miles of detail. Afterwards I remember just feeling like a little person. Not in a bad way, just real and somehow refreshed. It’s pretty hard to feel anything other than humbled after an experience like that. But I’m convinced it’s possible to channel some of that sense of perspective by merely stopping and observing the detail of whatever we find around us. Don’t think ‘I AM STRESSED’; look at the texture on the wall, watch the second hand tick round, look at your fingerprints* – do they have waves or whorls? Just look. Full stop at the end of an angry paragraph.

So perhaps it’s the looking around, noticing, soaking it all up that’s what counts. That’s where we find that much needed perspective that allows us to get ourselves out of crap moment, to cope, to carry on. To be thankful for just being here and perhaps not taking every goddamn little thing so bloody seriously.

I think then I’ll change my quote. Rather than looking up, let’s think of looking around as what’s most important. And I quote:

Keep on looking around you. That’s the key to life.

Pretty sure some got has already taken that one, so I’m just gonna imagine it’s mine alone and no, I’m not even going to bother Googling it.

*People will think you’re strange. But naturally you won’t give a hoot about that, as you will be so in the moment.

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