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Look Up

21 October 2016 Lorin Clarke

Look Up

Like that thing where you can’t speak because you’re laughing too hard but you’re not sure if you’re laughing at the original thing or if you’re laughing at the fact that you’re laughing…then you make the mistake of looking at the person you’re laughing with and it’s hopeless and oxygen preservation is all your body can deal with for a good three minutes, then for the next 10 minutes every now and then you do a little recovery laugh
or a laugh-sigh and life is absurd and excellent for a bit.

Or that moment when you suddenly look up while walking a well-worn route and see something new or something you had never noticed. Someone on a top-floor balcony. A bird. An ornate architrave. The sky. (What even is the sky? I mean, obviously it’s the atmosphere and stuff, but check it out! It’s been up there your whole life, changing colour and throwing water at you and what have you ever done for it?)

Or how sometimes the words “Excuse me? I think this is yours?” can reverse a really average life subplot. Like when they are delivered alongside your own humiliatingly familiar, somehow revealing and embarrassing wallet.

Or how babies sit up really straight, their posture perfect and hopeful and strong – usually with a delightful back-of-head fluff explosion that undermines the devout seriousness of their expression.

Or how birds do that sideways head thing where they look all human and you find yourself wanting to say “You right there?” and then you remember it’s a bird and you feel like an idiot and that kind of makes you like the bird more.

Or the way a chilled glass beads and sparkles when the sun is belting through it.

Or bare feet in the grass.

Or the feeling of rising to the surface after that first dip in the sea – it’s just you, grinning, suddenly, silently, inside your own head. You’re ageless. You’re unattached. You smell of sunscreen and salt. You’re realising there’s a strong chance you forgot your towel.

Or a really delicious, ludicrously complicated salad – made by somebody else.

Or the sound of cutlery clinking on plates and bowls from high-up balconies and low-lying backyards on a hot night: a classic summer symphony.

Or a dramatic moment in the cricket, overheard from a parked car whose inhabitants are listening, feet on the dashboard, leaning towards the sound like a cat pre-pounce.

Or an ongoing, slowly developing in-joke with a local barista.

Or those words just for the summer that you can’t say without an Australian accent: Grouse! Cicadas! Jacaranda!

Or the silly truth that cupcakes become posh when they’re on a kind of three-tiered stage.

Or the feeling of losing yourself, two hours at a time, in movies or plays or galleries – your mind dipping and diving on a new trajectory, pausing other information like where you parked the car and whether or not you’re going to get that thing done for work by Friday.

Also lovely: Rows of things! Plants, lights, buttons, books, people dancing in formation. There’s something about the order of it that makes you feel sorted. Let it feed your subconscious.
The cool change.

Sleeping beneath a sheet.

A surprise drift through the edge of a well-placed sprinkler in a park.

Watermelon with mint.

How the tiny lines in leaves look like a map of rivers from the sky, which looks like a spider’s web, which looks like the path a bug makes across the young bark of a tree, which looks like a hand-written note.
They’re all there. The small lovely things. They persist when everything is hot and terrible. So hold onto them for a moment. Take off your shoes in the grass. Look up.

Lorin Clarke

This article was first publised in Ed#523 of The Big Issue.

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