Thursday, September 6, 2007

Look Up.

This photo was taken at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic. One of the things I like about this photo is what it illustrates about what you can see and how things seem when you approach them from a different angle. In this case, very close to the wall, and looking straight up.

I love the shape of the buttresses against the sky, and the amazing, leaping silhouettes of the the gargoyle rain spouts. This perspective changes the angles, the shape, the movement of the church, and presents to view an abstraction of a fairly typical medieval church. It is suddenly not typical, but nothing material has changed--it is abstracted and changed only through the chosen perspective.

What typical, mundane element can you take from your life and view through a new angle? Maybe you hate your job, but if you choose to see it as funding for the next step--really, as the salary for research--then it takes on a different role in your psyche, doesn't it?

Maybe you dislike cooking dinner--every night we have to eat! why haven't they invented a meal pill already?--but as you stir the ground beef for spaghetti, you count the number of stirs through the dish, performing a mind-clearing meditation you might otherwise not have time for.

For a semester in college, I lived in New York City for the first time. One of the many things I noticed while living there was how infrequently people looked up. In fact, you could often tell the tourists from the natives by who was looking up and who was looking down, averting their eyes and mostly staring impenetrably ahead into some indeterminate middle distance. I remember looking up from time to time, every time being awestruck by so many things: the almost total obliteration of the sky by tall buildings, by the monumental human effort of such a skyline, and, every once in a while, by the way the sun and clouds were framed by the crenellated sky. One of my favorite memories, in fact, is coming in from LaGuardia during sunset, the low, orange orb of the sun being perfectly suspended between the Twin Towers, as though it were gently wedged there. I remember thinking: Such a thing to be privileged to see! What an astonishing world, where the buildings seem higher than the sun.

My point is this: Look up. What do you notice? What is different than you thought it would be? And when you find something surprising, how does it make you feel?

Brazen Careerist blogger Penelope Trunk reports in a post about starting your own business:
Seventy-five percent of people report that negative thinking goes away if you look toward the sky.

Remember that so much of how we see the world is based on the perspectives we hold. Just remember that those perspectives are anything but fixed, and that you have the power to see things differently.


Anonymous said...

The best part about my job is the window in my office. I like to go and stand right near the glass and look up at the sky. I call it "falling into the sky" and it's amazing how the immensity of the Texas sky can help me put things back in perspective.


(There's a similar idea in Amelie Nothomb's novel Fear and Trembling ).

Mandelina said...

Good post.