Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Staring Off Into The Distance

I was sitting on a rooftop a few years ago.

"Why a rooftop," I hear you say, "Why not a chair?  Chairs are soft - rooftops can be dangerous!" 

Good question - I congratulate you on your razor sharp brain!

The answer is because I happen to think that rooftops tend to act as incredibly peaceful and enjoyable spaces.  They are clean, generally offer excellent views, and provide splendid isolation. 

And, at times, the ability to be a suburban hermit is just the ticket.

Now, at this particular moment, I was listening to 'Mrs. Potter's Lullaby' by The Counting Crows.  I had never heard it before, and I confess that when I encounter music, I am drawn more by the lyrics than the musical tone of a song.  I am happy to say that this particular item delivered admirably on both fronts.

There is a line in this song that goes:

"If you've never stared off into the distance, then your life is a shame."

I happen to agree and I'd like to take sometime to explain what that idea means to me.  We've all heard the line that you need to make time to "Stop and smell the roses".  This aphorism speaks to the need to enjoy life, but doesn't really give you any instruction as to how to locate the roses that you should be enjoying - and I think that, for most people, this is the tricky part.

Now, in my opinion, the idea of staring off into the distance provides a better footing for enjoying your life.  Apart from being one of the big reasons to climb out onto a roof, it puts you into a contemplative mood and literally suggests a shift in perspective - from the closest and most mundane of your worries to a broader, wide view of the composition of the world and your place in it.  

I think that taking a moment each day to alter the focus of your perspective is incredibly important for your mental and emotional health and helps you to reevaluate your priorities and your perception of the challenges that you are faced with.

Now, I am not a hippie, and I am certainly not trying to trivialize the fact that you have deadlines and bills and complex interpersonal relationships that can be taxing on your heart.

But I am confident that if you take sixty seconds each evening to gaze up into the night sky and wonder where it all came from and what else is out there and how impossibly far away those bright little dots all are, that taking this small moment to appreciate and contemplate the infinite and the incomprehensible will change how you view the world around and how you cope with your challenges each day.

Remember that what the night sky shows you, you cannot see in the clear light of day.  The sun shines too brightly for you to perceive anything else.  But as the noise of the phones, the office, and the traffic sets with the sun, in the twilight peace, a different perspective is revealed.  

As the sun sets, the stars appear.

This process of nature is, in itself, a reminder to us that while looking past our immediate atmosphere of daily tasks can be difficult, the infinity that is revealed to us by doing so is stunning and worthwhile and will allow you to see more than you could have ever believed was there.

Take some time to stare off into the distance.  You will be glad you did.

* Note:  Rooftops ARE dangerous!  Please don't climb up on to one as a result of this post.

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