“Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see…” ~ Queen
Or, as defined by my dictionary
Look up (vb): to discover of confirm by checking, to improve
One of the greatest piece of advice I have ever been given in my career is “No-one ever found out where they were by looking at a map”. I love maps. No journey is complete for me unless I have a map to follow or, at the very least, can look at the one on my phone. And I can’t be doing with this turning maps round malarkey. North is always North. That is the basic principle. Get that sorted and you’re at least halfway there. But, in reference to what I said at the start some of you may be thinking that’s ridiculous, maps are there to help you find out where you are. But just think about it; a map is only so many lines and colours and symbols. Totally meaningless until you match that line to a road, that symbol to a church, that colour to a park. And you can only do that by taking your nose out of a map book and looking up.
A glorious friend of mine sometimes tweets “Look at the sky.” Not to me, to her general timeline. Often she tweets it when I am stuck in a window-less office and all I have is a drab ceiling. But I love that she says it. It’s a call to get our heads out of the mundane and see that great wide world around us. It’s over my head, it’s over her head, and it’s over yours. All of us, under one big beautiful sky – ain’t that something?
I live in London and I look up a lot. The architecture is too beautiful, too striking, not to be appreciated. I also walk a lot, one of my main routes being along Whitechapel High Street. Yes, it’s home to the fine Royal London Hospital, the Salvation Army have roots there, and it’s synonymous forever with the Krays. But as a pavement it’s pretty grim. It’s littered with chewing gum, litter, cigarette ends, etc etc. If I walk along there looking down my soul starts to get dragged down into the murk. But if I look up? Well then I get the sight of the London Helipad and sometimes the Air Ambulance taking off and landing. I get the clashing architecture and signs of different cultures. I get the cheeky glimpses of the Gherkin as I approach the City. And of course I get the sky, the ever changing and wonderful sky.
We’re all quite small in the vast world. But we’re a part of it. Sometimes we can get bogged down in the minutiae of life. We don’t know where we are or what we’re doing, or we become some focused on some small aspect that we lose all sense of perspective. If that’s you now then go outside and look at the sky. And just remember, no-one ever found out where they were by looking at a map.