I quite often find myself looking down while walking. I never noticed this habit until an ex once asked me if I had noticed something in the sky. I don’t remember what it was he thought was so worthy of notice at the time; clouds, airplane, particular atmospheric hue, the sun or moon—I don’t know. I think I was 23 and his simple question made me realize my habit of staring at the ground while I walk.
I remember feeling so ashamed. I didn’t want to admit—to him or myself—that I rarely, if ever, looked up at the world. Shame? What a curious response. My skin flushed, I faltered before I thought of a reasonable excuse for not noticing his point of attention. Somewhere within my interior, intuitive knowledge let me know that this was deeply limiting—flawed one could say.
I suppose I realized at that moment that this habit revealed something fundamental about me. I was exposed. I tended (gritting my teeth, I admit I still am) to be an interior person. In my mind’s eye I am not. Visions of myself are filled with open smiles, easy laughter, friends, groups, celebration and (Oh, horrors!) public enjoyment. But I am a bit shy, still. I am hesitant. I am not-so-sure.
I could find any number of excuses to hang my hat on. I could say I am an only child, reared by a single, self-consumed parent. I could say I moved to a new school and town every year while growing up. I could say I grew up partially in the Northwest where to look up nearly always meant a raindrop in the eyeball. I could say I am naturally self-contained, a Capricorn—reserved and introverted.
Well, I live in a place of nearly perpetual sunshine now. As I walk, as I hike and explore, I look up. Perhaps the aperture of the camera acts as my shield, but I now look out into the world. Small metal shield in hand, I enjoy capturing the unbelievably deep hue of the sky. Dried, craggy branches, flowers, plants that look as though they emerged from 1000 feet below the sea, birds, and clouds all stand out magnificently against the saturated blue of an Arizonan sky.
I still look down, and am grateful for my hiking companions because they notice more points of interest along the pathways than I ever do, but now sometimes—I look up.
© FMR 5/31/2012
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