Thursday, 21 July 2011

Things Are Looking Up!

A month since my last blog and here I am on holiday with Mrs G (@MandyRG) in the previously unexplored (by us) county of Northumberland - and we are loving it!  In previous years we have visited and walked in the Lake District, the Peak District, Devon, Cornwall and Wales and I traveled extensively in Scotland when I was much younger.  We live in a beautiful country and I heartily commend it to you if you have not yet taken the time to explore our own land.

Bamburgh Castle
This week, we have visited and walked coastline, town walls, castles and gardens.  And in our explorations, I have found myself looking upwards a lot of the time; at spectacular cloud formations, at the tops of trees and hills, at castle ramparts and frequently the ceilings of those same buildings. In the interiors of two of those castles, my eyes and attention have been drawn by the beautiful carvings and embellishments created over years by past master craftsmen, and often cleaned and restored more recently by today's generation of similarly talented and passionate artisans.  One of the castle guides today commented how infrequently people look up in their rush to tramp through the state rooms and get to the gift shop, coffee shop or toilets, and what artistry and beauty they miss as a result. 

I was reminded of some work I did many years ago when I was a Drama Student in Edinburgh.  I developed and led my classmates through a discovery and exploration of their 'personal space'.   I asked them to describe what they could see, how much space they had around them, above them, below them. I asked them to try to define that space, to claim it, to feel their way into, and to fill it in some way.  The results were fascinating; people drew circles on the floor, or created barriers with clothing or furniture, someone stood on a table and declared ownership of the space from ceiling to floor, someone else took to the top of the cupboards, someone shouted or sang loudly whenever anyone else came near his self-defined space, whilst others collaborated and defined a shared – and therefore much larger – space.

I was especially taken with those who looked upwards, who recognized that we earthbound creatures do not always realise the opportunity to explore and expand beyond what we can see and do at eye-level.  In exploring Northumberland, I have been reminded again of the value of looking upwards as much as possible.
So here’s my thought for the day – as we push on with the day job, focusing on the task in hand, getting the job done, we should all take some time emotionally and intellectually to pause and look up.  We might see something beautiful – either created by nature or by someone else – which might help us to think about and develop other ways of completing that task and maybe inspire others to lift their eyes upwards occasionally.


  1. I love this blog, I will look up on my way home today. Reminds me of the Paulo Coehle idea that you need to be able to see the horizon to think big thoughts.

    Also, enjoy Northumberland. Very fond memories of Dunstanburgh Castle, where I got down on my knees and proposed to my wife 22 years ago.

  2. Henry, thanks so much for your kind comments. Would be interested to know more about Paulo Coehle.
    Dunstanburgh was our fist visit on Monday; ironically, in light of my blog, the only castle we've visited on our trip without a ceiling! But doesn't Northumberland do Big Sky really, really well?