A couple of months ago I went with Dan on the train somewhere (London, possibly). At the station we were both a little tense after some words of frustration were shared (about what, I can’t recall). As I sat, waiting for our train, I looked up.
The sky was bright blue and the clouds were fluffy, white, perfect. A small breeze was pushing the clouds around in the sky, morphing them into different shapes. I thought about just how strange this rock we call earth is and how incredible it is too. My tension lifted and my mind relaxed.
Once on the train I shunned my usual routine of plugging in my headphones and listening to a podcast, and instead looked out of the window.
I peeked into other people’s gardens, some neat and tidy, some dishevelled. I saw horses grazing in fields and graveyards lined with flowers. At each stop I saw people of all shapes, sizes, colours and abilities. I admired the different shades of green in the trees and every now and then looked back up at the sky.
By the end of the journey, I was calm. Dan and I apologised for being spiky with each other and I told him about all the things I saw on the journey.
Looking up in this deliberate and intentional way is, I think, a shortcut to calm. Why? Because it takes us out of our own heads. It gives us some much needed perspective. It reminds us that really, in the grand scheme of things, what’s happening right now *probably* isn’t going to matter in 10 years time.
I think this idea can be grating and as someone who deeply cares about the impact they make, it could certainly send me into an existential crisis… however, I do think there’s a benefit to looking up and recognising that what we’re worried about isn’t as big or important as we think it is.
I’ve also been watching ‘One Strange Rock’ on Netflix, a documentary narrated by Will Smith and directed by Darren Aronofsky (directed Black Swan, Requiem For a Dream and Mother!) which explores the amazing, strange and weird planet we call earth, through the eyes of experienced astronauts. It’s incredible and really helps me put aside worries that feel big, even if it’s only for the duration of the show.
Having this moment of perspective now and then can help you feel calmer and more grounded. For me, the quickest way to jolt me into this way of thinking is to look up at the clouds. People watching, mindful meditation and getting close to nature are also brilliant for this.
I know the idea of looking up may not be new or ground-breaking, but I was honestly pretty shocked at how good I felt after that train journey and had a compulsion to share. I guess it’s because we so often try to distract ourselves with work, social media and online ‘content’ that we forget to just… look up sometimes.
If anything, I hope this post inspires you to look up and feel calmer.
Before I go I wanted to remind you that my monthly musings newsletter will be going out next Sunday (28th July) and this month I’m looking at being a beginner and doing things imperfectly. If you subscribe, you’ll also receive my Growth Spurt email challenge, designed to help you plant, grow and nurture your self-belief, which kicks off on the 5th of August.
I’ll see you next week for some flash fiction in this month’s mindscape.
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