The Two-Word Mantra

I am five feet, eight inches.

I try not to slouch. I try to keep my spine straight and my shoulders back and my head held tall. All the stuff we need to do so we can “look the world straight in the eye,” like Helen Keller said. It’s become a useful seven-word mantra for me.

But even with my spine, shoulders, head situated just so, I still spend most of my time looking at one place in the world.

Down.

Most of what I see exists between the earth and five feet, eight inches up from it – like that’s the ceiling on my life. Which is expected behavior. There are computer screens, slippery sidewalks, hot frying pans, good books down there.

But some days, I remember unexpected behavior’s an option, too. So, I’ll look above eye-level. Up to treehouses and 11th-story window boxes and 747s and hummingbirds headed to Mexico. And sky. Absolutely unending sky.

And it’s like this five feet, eight inch life I live and breathe in opens up into this huge, roof-less world.

So, maybe another useful mantra is just two words: Look Up. Which is less heavy-handed than: Take the ceiling off your life, and more exact than: Look around you, for Pete’s sake. Though it helps with both.

And when we do it, when we go above eye-level, then, perhaps, we can look the whole world straight in the eye.

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