It is really easy to get stuck. We get stuck in all sorts of things, from relationships to jobs to ruts. If we don’t pay attention, our feet will stick to the ground, our minds will stick to our problems, and before we know it, our whole world has been warped down into the handful of places we go, the few people we see (some of whom we don’t even like), and the long list of complaints and stresses that plague us. We run through the motions, happy only for a moment at happy hour, and slowing down only when stuck in traffic (though our mind is still racing).
This cycle is a vicious one, and it is one that many of us succumb to, especially if you fall into that glorious age group where you’re expected to be building a successful career, making a lot of money, living on your own, keeping up with friends, and finding someone to spend your life with (small order, huh?).
The good news is you don’t have to. And if you’re there, you can get out. I’ve been there and I’ve gotten out. Then I’ve fallen in again and gotten out again. You could say I’m an expert in navigating vicious cycles of all kinds.
There is one trick I have for getting out and staying out, and unlike so many of our modern fixes, it’s free, available to everyone, and will not hurt your liver: Look at the sky.
Look at the sky in the morning, peak out the window mid-email, watch the clouds on your lunch break if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere you can see the stars, greet the night sky with the excitement of a kid of Christmas morning; however you can and as much as possible, just look up.
Why? Your world is not the handful of places you go, the few people you see, and the long list of complaints and stresses you have. It is easy to forget that, but when you look at the sky, you remember.
Here is what I want you to notice about the sky: Notice that you can’t see where it begins or ends. Notice that the same sun shining over you is shining on billions of people you have never met and never will. Notice that if there is a cloud above you, it is not the same cloud that’s above me. Notice that if it’s raining, there are billions, more like trillions, of places in the world where it is not raining. Notice that the clouds you see are moving, even if it doesn’t look like it, just like the whole Universe. Notice that the sun is the same sun that brought heat and light to your great-great-great-grandparents…and theirs. Notice that the moon is in a different place every time you see it, and even when you can’t see it, it is always there.
Taking literally five seconds out of your day to notice this will give you a gift that mystics and philosophers have been pouring over for centuries: perspective.
When you look at the sky, I hope it reminds you that your world is infinite. That you may be lacking something right now, but just as you can’t see the end of the sky, there is no limit to what you can achieve. That’s not just me being your cheerleader, that is the nature of the Universe, a law written in blue above all of our heads for us to see.
When you look at the sky, I hope it reminds you that your world is always moving. That even though you feel stuck right now, by nature of being here on a planet that is always moving, you’re in motion too. And that motion as a whole is always forward, never backward. That means that even when you can’t feel it, even if some part of you feels like it’s going backward, you are growing.
When you look at the sky, I hope it reminds you that there is always something beautiful unseen. That even if it looks dark right now, the sun is on its way over the horizon. No matter how hopeless you feel your situation is, you remember that you don’t need to see the sun to know that it will rise, and you could adopt that same faith in knowing about your life.
Lastly, when you look at the sky, I hope you see possibilities and dreams. When you were a kid, you would look at the sky with wonder, making pictures out of those condensed water and dust droplets. Somewhere along the way, you stopped seeing Mickey Mouse and started seeing a possibility of your hair being ruined. I hope that by just looking up every once in a while, you remember what it’s like to dream and dream without limit.
There are always going to be forces that try to keep you down—gravity, for one—and problems are as addictive as whiskey and men with tattoos. It is easy to get stuck, but you were not made to be stuck. You were not meant to contain yourself, obsessing your thoughts on things as superficial as what to wear and what to say. You were not meant to struggle, to fly through life, jumping from task to task, checking boxes, but never enjoying the journey, saving happiness for happy hour.
You were meant to be infinite, always growing, filled with faith and dreams. You were meant to have your head in the clouds. If you don’t believe me, look up and see for yourself.