Thursday, December 3, 2009

My favorite view, straight up

Where do you look when you walk?

It might seem like an odd question, but I've noticed lately that I've gone from being a look-down-at-the-ground guy to a look-up-at-the-sky guy.

Does that say something about my outlook on life, or is there something else going on?

1. Hang down your head

I started looking down at the ground as a kid, because that's how you, as a broke person, can sometimes find money or other neat things, like the Winnipeg Jets button I found on the ground behind my school in grade two - ka-ching - or the $20 bill I found on the floor of the Garrick Theatre when I was 15.

When that happens, you so can't believe your good fortune - you have no choice but to look around for Howie or Ashton. If they're nowhere to be seen: the money's yours.

Looking down at the ground also means that you never trip, fall into an open manhole, or step into a puddle of puke, because you're always aware of everything that's approaching. It may be why I'm alive and puke-free today.

On the downside, it also means that you lose the big picture - context! - and look like a depressed loner. Sure, you might just be deep in thought, but the picture to the outside world is "Droopy Dog."

Why, I feel sad just thinking about it.

2. Making contact

I've never been much of a look-straight-ahead guy, because that leads to eye contact with strangers and requests for spare change, cigarettes, a light, dignity, and other stuff that I don't, and will never, have on me.

Sure, once in awhile, someone will smile at you and you'll think, "Did I do up my fly this morning?" but, otherwise, not a lot of good arises from the look-straight-ahead approach.

3. Things are looking up

As I say, I've started looking up when I walk - straight up.

At this time of year, the view is amazing: you get the bare branches of the trees against the winter sky, the occasional squirrel or bird, and the sound of snow crunching beneath your feet. It all adds up to a pretty spectacular view and mood, so that even if you're an eternal pessimist, you certainly don't look like one.

To the outside world, looking up would probably imply a more optimistic worldview than staring down, but it might also imply that you're a daydreamer, a daydream believer, or that you're not sleepy and there is no place you're going to:

In other words looking up at the birdies and branches may give you the appearance of looking a little "out there" and having "no gainful employment." Works for me!

It also occurred to me just today that by looking up at the sky, sweeping orchestras in my brain, maybe I'm just plagiarizing the Coen Brothers' great film, Miller's Crossing.

Check out 1:18 in the trailer below.

So sweeping and majestic are the trees, they can only represent "the broad sweep of life," the stark foliage watching John Turturro die, just as they've watched countless more die before him.

It's enough to make a guy start looking at the ground again.


  1. This was a very interesting read. I think you are right about this. We should all learn to be look-up-at-the-sky-guys. Or...girls, as it is in my case. ^_^

  2. Interesting post! I'm a mix between looking down and looking straight ahead. Usually if I'm with people, it's straight ahead, but if I'm alone, especially if I'm outside, I'm more prone to looking down. I think it's because I'm a little weird, and have to make sure I alternate stepping over the cracks in a sidewalk with my left foot, then my right foot, etc, it's a strange little quirk of mine. However, when sitting outside, especially at night, I love looking towards the sky at the stars.

  3. Miller's Crossing is my second favorite Coen brothers film of all time, after The Big Lebowski. Now I have to go rent it! Thanks a lot Kenton.

    Oh, and I tend to look at people wen I;m walking around, which gets me a lot of dirty looks. ;P

  4. Miller's Crossing is a great movie, and not just for the trees!

    Thanks for the comments here - I was having a rotten day, and this little post ended up making me feel a lot better, along with all of the nice comments and emails. And I thought it was just "for me."

  5. You've inspired me to look up, Kenton. This is a timely post for me because lately I've noticed just how much spit there is on the sidewalks downtown. It revolts me. Why do people spit?

  6. I find where I look when I'm walking really depends on what I'm doing and what's going on. For example, I tend to look down in winter to prevent insanely cold wind from hitting me in the face. If the trees are really beautiful or there's some neat murals around, I look up. If I'm looking around for something or just people-watching, then it's eye contact all the way.
    I've also got the bizarre habit of looking off into some random angle when I'm creatively stumped or just in the middle of a really good brainstorm, and sometimes people end up in that general direction without me noticing. I'm not staring, really!
    Also, thanks for posting "Daydream Believer" and reminding me of the synchronized swimming routine I did to it when I was nine. :)


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