SomethingToDo2

People don’t look up very often. Straight ahead is a pretty comfortable place to rest your eye balls after all. We look at eye-level supermarket shelves and eye-level advertisements. We stare at the back of people’s heads or look at our feet on the train home, plus we tend to have our faces buried in a portable screen most of the time.

So here is my proposition: look up. You’ll be amazed at what you see.

Long term Look-Uppery will deliver strong results. You’ll see the seasons change, high-rises built, and you’ll probably remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarms more often too.

But I like to look up to notice the smaller, simple things.

Like rooftop gardens in the middle of the city and the fact that three buildings in a row can perfectly embody three completely different periods of architecture. Clouds. People smoking in apartment windows while they watch the world go by. Blossoms. Dried-out toilet paper globs on public toilet roofs. Graffiti. Strange new brands of mustard on the top shelf at the supermarket.

I like seeing birds wrestle with precarious perches on out-hanging tree branches, and I love seeing possums curled up asleep in the middle of the day. I love getting a wave from a window cleaner abseiling off a 50-storey building, and you can’t beat glimpsing the odd sky-writ marriage proposal.

You notice strange things when you look up, too. Doors that don’t seem to lead anywhere, mysterious blacked-out windows, people hiding in trees and ratbags at windows gawking though binoculars.

You feel the sun on your face, and glimpse the horizon more often, which is excellent for your mental health.

I also reckon when you practise looking up, you become more engaged in your immediate surroundings. A mate of mine says you can always tell when someone is a tourist, because they look up a lot, and I’d say that’s true. Thousands of people come to Australia from all over the world to visit Uluru each year, and yet I don’t know many Australian’s who have been. When it comes to having a good look around, the principle is exactly the same, and it means we miss out seeing all the interesting stuff.

I’ll wager there are plenty of tourists who have marvelled at the splendour of the Majorca House building on Degraves Street in Melbourne. And I’d say for every one of them, there is a local who drinks their coffee in its shadow every morning and has never noticed it.

So try it for a day. Look up and let us know what you see …

Peter Fray

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