I lift my chin and feel my throat open as the muscles in the sides of my neck relax. It may be the first time I’ve looked up in days.

I’m about four miles into my walk. The pooch is panting along behind me, and I feel this little swell of joy move from my chest to the corners of my mouth. I am smiling.

For days, I’ve been walking with my head down. I’m watching my feet or the road just ahead of me. I don’t know why. Trying to keep from falling perhaps, too absorbed in my thoughts, myopic in my perspective. And I’m tired of seeing this way. So tired, in fact, that I walk a good portion of my usual path this morning with my eyes closed. (Don’t worry – it’s a very long, private, empty driveway.)

But as I lift my head, as my eyes see the cloudless blue between the fingers of leaves, I realize what I have been missing – something beyond myself. I see sky and openness and the beauty of the trees that tower above me. I notice their bark and the way they sway in the tiniest of breezes. I take a deep breath and grin.

One of my fondest memories is of laying in my friend’s yard on a summer day with my eyes to the sky. I laid there for hours (my shirt rolled up to tan my stomach – I was 13) and watched the sky go by. I didn’t have anything in mind. I wasn’t trying to figure something out. I just laid there and stared, eyes wide open, to what was above me.

Anne Lamott says of writers, “I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world — present and in awe.” I saw this today in myself – me, some trees, a pure blue sky – awe at its very best. And all because I just looked up.

Oak Trees and Sky