A Study Of Sky (Two)

Jan 21, 2014 by

“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.

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Winnipeg, Canada

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Gobi Desert, Mongolia

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Fonte da Telha, Portugal

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Tsawwassen, Canada

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Leiden, the Netherlands

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Lake Baikal, Russia

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Gobi Desert, Mongolia

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Winnipeg, Canada

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Ahu Tongariki, Easter Island

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Kuzhir, Russia

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.

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30 Comments

  1. Hey. I do that, too. http://www.domestiphobia.net/2012/09/12/and-i-traveled-just-a-few-steps-at-most-to-see-the-world/

    I’m starting to think we were separated at birth. 🙂

  2. This was absolutely brilliant, Colleen! I’ve been working harder over several years now to live in the moment. The climax of your story was absolutely brilliant and literally gave me goosebumps. All of those factors will never come together again. Amazing… 🙂

  3. Love this theme! You can’t helped be pulled back into the moment when you just stare at the sky.

  4. I absolutely adored this post. To me there is just something so calming about looking up at the sky. Last week I captured an absolutely brilliant sunrise from my house (I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and beautiful sky anything are quite rare) and while I have taken scores of awesome photos of the sky from around the world, the one of boring “home” is one of my favorites now.

    Your one of Easter Island is my fav from a wow standpoint considering the attraction but from a beauty in the moment kind of a way, your ones of Canada are striking.

    • Colleen

      I totally agree.. it’s so easy to overlook our “home” pictures, but they are often some of the best we take!

  5. This is a wonderful post! Love it. 🙂

  6. I’ve had a similar thought to this on several occasions during this trip, the idea that just as you never step in the same river twice, you never see the same sky twice. And there’s something about traveling that really does make you stop and take stock of your surroundings and allow you to appreciate the sky and the sun setting and rising, and in reality, it’s the same one that you gazed on when you were back home but part of why it’s so beautiful RIGHT NOW is simply because you have taken the time to stop and really look at it. So thank you for articulating this idea so beautifully, and for sharing your lovely photos of our gorgeous sky along with it.

    • Colleen

      Yes! I love the image of the river… that has to be symbolic on its own. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment. I’m happy this spoke to you in some way. x

  7. 1. There’s something of a mystique that’s more present in these photos than the previous set.
    2. You should definitely go into the business of photographing chemtrails in the sky.
    3. I cannot, CANNOT think of Mongolia anymore without immediately jumping to your Mongolian food post. Cannot. At all.

    These are just thoughts. Just thoughts.

    • Colleen

      I love your comments.
      Haha… I am sorry I soiled Mongolia with the food post. It really is a wonderful country. Maybe just bring snacks haha!

  8. Loved both of these sky posts! Such a simple, yet magical thing. (Plus your photos are stunning!)

  9. Wow, amazing photos. The snapshot of Canadian and Russian sky rocks! That was a great idea to collect them all and publish on your blog! <3

    • Colleen

      Thank you Agness. I had a lot of fun scrounging up these photos to put together. x

  10. Obviously I am partial to the Winnipeg and Tsawwassen skies… Both remind me of home. And normally I hate contrails which I see as sky pollution, but the way you captured them in the Portugal sky…. well done. Great leading lines!

    PS – Still not sure of where I would live… I haven’t forgotten… just want to make sure it’s not random and from the heart!

    • Colleen

      I’m flattered that you liked what I did with the Portugal sky! Thank you as always for such a kind and thoughtful comment, my Canadian/prairie friend. Hugs to you and Jenny.

  11. Hi Colleen, this is beautiful, so profound. True, when you’re lost in the moment looking up the sky make you feel so centered. It reminds me of a presence so powerful and bigger that anything. And you captured such wonderful images of immense beauty and power.

    • Colleen

      Thank you Marisol! I’m so glad to hear that you could relate to this post.

  12. beautiful picture collection you have i like it thanks for tips.
    puertoricoblogger.com

  13. Your writing has been blowing me away, lately.. the sky and the reminder of live in the moment is brilliant and beautiful.

  14. I love where you’re going with this blog. Keep being awesome!

  15. Beautiful. I love this post. I also could take a lot of your words to heart. It isn´t often enough I just enjoy the moment and look up towards the sky.

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