I’ve been doing a lot of looking up today. In the literal sense. And by literal I mean it in the truest, most basic definition without metaphor. Not the new Merriam-Webster “definition” that now allows people too lazy to understand grammar to continue to misuse it (no, you are not literally going to explode, though I might literally never forgive M-W for this). But I digress.
I’ve been looking up. It started on my morning walk. The sky was overcast. That medium charcoal color that fills the air with heavy humidity and promises straight down, unfettered, simple rain. The fall colors in our neighborhood were beautiful against this somber sky. I kept finding myself walking under trees, watching the branches, following leaves drift from the topmost branches to the damp sidewalk below, music in my earbuds, my feet in a rhythm, my breath in my body. It was a unique sort of meditative moment. A study in the seasons. The colors seem to be particularly beautiful this fall and the leaves slow to fall creating gorgeous colors in the sky and gutters.
Later, at afternoon carpool pick up at the little guy’s preschool, the clouds were just breaking after a midmorning of rain. Bursts of blue swirled with wisps of white still holding on somewhere high above, as the breeze rustled the leaves sprinkling the car with leaves and raindrops from the trees. Just now, we waited for the school bus to return my eldest to me. The sky now that sparkling, clear, deep, heartbreaking blue that only a fall day can provide. I looked up and the crystal clearness of it brought every pine needle of the giant trees around our house in focus against that dazzling blue. The trees seemed to be reaching one final last stretch to the sun, their branches grasping for the last bit of warmth and growth before curling up in their leaf beds for the winter.
And I started thinking about why I’d spent so much of my day looking up. Certainly I look to the sky each day, but not nearly with this much frequency. I keep my head down at the computer, at the sink, at the stove, at the washing machine, on the road, on the cluttered floor, on the television, on the phone. I’m checking off tasks, getting things done, moving through my day hoping for the briefest moments of sparkle in a day otherwise filled with drudgery. I often think I might literally scream if I have to empty and refill the dishwasher one more time (a task I planned to do while the boys enjoyed a bit of post-school screen time and instead am ignoring to write this post). But the moments of sparkle make up for it all, don’t they? A surprise hug from the newly minted five year old after making silly fishy faces. Telling a joke that actually made the eight year old laugh instead of roll his eyes. A quiet moment with the hubby. A good day at the work in progress. A walk. A game. An unexpected phone call with a friend.
But the drudgery? The frustration? The doubt? The roadblocks? The lengthening to do list? The dead-end job? The new worry? The health problem? Whatever that thing is you can’t change? The thing that pulls your focus? The thing that seems to suck your soul’s energy and joy? We control the perspective on that. We are in charge of where we look. I can continue to look at the pile of dishes or I can look at the boys, heads together, playing a game quietly. I can look at the post-it reminder above my desk I seem to keep forgetting to complete or see the way the sun shines through the glass, creating wavy movement of light on the orange paper. I can look at the busy afternoon of errands and dinner prep ahead or see the gathering or our family we’ll have cocooned in our circle of light at the dining room table later. I can look at the word count on the work in progress and be discouraged by how little I wrote today, or I can look at the fact that I solved an issue in the text and just wrote this 700+ word post.
Perspective. I’m doing a lot of looking up today.