A Study Of Sky (Two)
“Things are getting better,” he said. Several empty beer bottles sat on the table in front of us. A trail of smoke rose from his cigarette leaning nonchalantly in the ashtray. I could just make out the clinking of the chips from our backgammon game over the sounds of the jungle and the sporadic downpours around us. I took a sip of my beer, the bottle sweating profusely in my hand.
He spoke in grand terms, on a global scale, of our planet’s collective conscience. Things are getting better. He smiled confidently, took a long drag of his cigarette and politely blew the smoke away from me. He rolled the dice.
Look almost anywhere on the internet these days – blogs of all nature, trend articles, celebrity pages – and you will see talk of “living in the moment.” This is the message of our modern day prophets like Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle. While it’s an easy enough slogan to bandy about, and while a lot of people say these words without fully understanding how to live in the moment, the world’s population as a whole is beginning to shift, a gentle head turn to see life from a different angle, under different light. Even just knowing that living in the moment is possible is helping things get better.
Travel is inherently a good way to live in the moment. When I’m traveling, I’m constantly alert, absorbing new surroundings, being tickled by new tastes and music and odours and languages. One month on the road can feel like the equivalent of a year spent at home just because of all the living packed into those days. It’s as if every moment counts, where every new place an adventure awaits, and every challenge before us is one we seek to overcome triumphantly, and it all provides us with endless stories that could easily fill a book.
Yet… even travel has its mundane, forgettable, journal-unworthy, blah moments. Cleaning underwear. Brushing teeth in yet another hostel bathroom. Walking to a bus stop. Waiting in lines. Looking for somewhere to eat. Being bored(!?). Travel, exciting though it may be, is still life, and life follows us when and where we go.
That is why I look up.
That is why I look at the sky. And while I sat across from my island friend, sharing beers and stories, I could see how contented he was. He told me to “just let things happen” and that when he broke his leg, he “never felt so goddamn alive” because of all the help people rushed to give him. In a way, I envied him, being so set in his happy present. It can be easy for me to forget the moment I’m in, and this is something I’m aware of. This is why happiness is such an active process and takes more hard work than a lot of people realise. But I have the sky. It is my constant reminder and the simplest way I know how to be in any moment, even when the sky is completely grey for a week. Look closer. It’s not just grey. The clouds are unendingly intricate and varied. The clouds are a story.
Things are getting better.
At any given moment when you find yourself vacantly and absently going through a task, stop to look at the sky. The precise shade of the sky, the shape and morphing of the clouds, the way the light colours the sky, the position of the sun or moon or the stars that are visible… these factors will never come together in this same way again. Know that this is a gift, that this will never happen again, just as the sky you see will only look like this once, in this moment now.