In New York City, it is said that you can always spot a tourist – they’re the ones that are looking up. True New Yorkers don’t look up, and I think I know why. There is so much New York City, it’s too much to carry everyday – New Yorkers know that to preserve themselves; they take in what they need to take in. You look down, you head out, you get to the it you need, and you head home.
And it’s pretty similar in most major cities, including mine – Toronto. You head out, you look down, you get to work (friend’s place, hangout), you do your thing, and then you head home – head down again ’til you’re through the door.
So, I had to stop and think one afternoon this week, when a flock of pigeons took off in front of me and circled en masse into the air. I followed them up and found myself looking up in a brilliant afternoon sky – one that I thought I knew, but had obviously neglected. And it wasn’t just that I was looking at the sky – that motion of lifting my head and looking up had lifted me up and out of myself. Staring at the sidewalk moments before, I was in my day – frustrated at the frustrations, worried about the worries, laughing at the funny bits, and waiting for quitting time. Head up and marvelling at the blue and white above me, it suddenly all fell away. I was released into the freedom of nature, and awed by the breadth and depth of the world surrounding me. The crises and quibbles that seemed most important were suddenly trivial, and the planet was smiling at me. And, strangely enough, I felt more of me come alive that moment, then all the self-reflection I had going on moments before.
I do look often at the night sky, staring with hope at the stars above, wondering if I can ever fathom the enormity of it all. But the day’s sky, neglected no longer – if only to look up and remember that there is more to life than daily human pursuits. There’s a planet here still welcoming us warmly, and if only to be polite, we should smile back in gratitude.
Here, then, is my wish – now more than ever, when everything and everyone seems to be looking down, literally and figuratively – look up. You’ll see – to look up is to look out, and to look out is to look in.