Hello. How’s the view from there? What can you see? A street? A room? An office? A carpark? The entire history of humanity? Probably not that last one. Usually, we just see what’s in front of us. Sometimes, we don’t even see that.
Have another look. Take in all the things you get to see thanks to the entire history of humanity.
This is a Public Service Announcement.
Look up. People forget to look up. Notice the sky. Notice the top parts of buildings you usually walk past the boring bottoms of. Notice roofing and old signage and bird life and a glowing top floor window with someone playing a violin in it and guttering that needs to be attended to and telephone wires slicing up the clouds.
Watch how children move. Apparently, children only eat when they’re hungry. Adults eat for many reasons, most of them emotional. Because they’re tired, anxious, depressed, or standing next to a bowl of chips while talking to someone at a barbecue. With movement, it seems like the opposite. Adults almost always move with purpose: to get somewhere. To be fit. To keep warm. Kids move constantly, for no reason other than to experience the feeling of moving. They hang upside down. They stand on one leg or lean or balance or flip. Kids move in a way that pays the human body the compliment of deploying everything it has to offer.
Look for the strongest bit of nature you can see.
Enjoy how people communicate wordlessly. The “you right?” eyebrow raise. Or “you coming into the lift?” A thank you smile. A “go ahead without me” hand gesture. There’s a kindness to these. A generosity that words can diminish.
Or when there’s a person standing behind a car backing into a carpark and the standing-behind-person does the “closer, closer, closer” hand signal once, twice, three times… and then the “woah!” hand, before nodding “you’re welcome” at a wave of thanks from the driver, and trotting across the road like a hero.
Or how sometimes, there are things you can do to indicate accelerated emotional support. Like when someone lets you into traffic and they’re not in your line of vision but it was a big gesture on their part so you open the window and stick your arm out for an open-air “thanks” wave to the car behind you. Or when you’re at a concert or the theatre or a gig and there is one performer who just nailed it, who just spoke to you, and you’re already clapping but then it’s their turn to be applauded and you do that thing where you clap in the air but you do it higher, like “this one’s for you”.
Notice the colours. Notice how many colours you can be looking at without registering them. Notice the ugly things with lovely colours and the lovely things that are boringly coloured.
Find your favourite source of light.
See if there’s anyone helping anyone else. Witnessing people helping other people is one of life’s great privileges. The instinct to help is so strong, you can find it all through the entire history of humanity, even in the worst bits. Especially in the worst bits.
Look at the people who are doing things while doing other things. Like tossing something and catching it while listening to someone speak, or making a line on the table with some stray sugar while talking on the phone. Like their conscious minds are occupied doing something else for a bit and the subconscious gets to have a bit of a play while nobody’s paying attention.
When you see a tiny aeroplane in the sky, do you see a tiny aeroplane or do you picture all the people on it? Sitting in the air above you. Some with colouring books. Some watching Goldie Hawn movies. Some of them completing a regular commute and others excited for their first real adventure. Just a few hundred people flying through your day on their way to, perhaps, the other side of the planet you’re standing on. All those thoughts, whizzing by, above you.
Locate the best climbing tree. If you were to go and climb a tree now, which would you pick? What would it feel like, to stand up there, bare feet grasping a high branch, leaves in your hair, scratches on your hands, and the kind of quiet you don’t get anywhere else except up a tree.
Great view from where you are. This has been a Public Service Announcement.
This originally appeared in The Big Issue. Please support vendors when you can.