“A remarkable thing about this Ark that Noah built — there was only one window in it… The only window was up under the rook high as it could be put. Why was the window there? It was constructed in this way so that Noah and those with him in the Ark would be obligated to look up at the sky. Up! That was the only way they could look out. In this way they could not look around at the flood and fill themselves with more fear.”
— Emmet Fox
“Diagrams for Living”
Today I write about those moments when we feel so lost, so helpless, whether perceived or rooted in reality. We’ve all been there at some time and while whatever it was we were going through, somehow, we mustered enough strength to move through the hardship.
Several years ago, I was faced with what one might call an upheaval in my life. This expanded to our family, though my husband and I did our best tap dancing so as not to worry our children; yet, they still could tell something was amiss. We were facing a challenge both financially and emotionally. I recall feeling so out of sorts, my comfort zone stretched to the limits. At first, I thought we could call it a day, move on and find our way as we always have. But this situation was different because I believed my integrity was being questioned. Whether it was true or not, it hurt my sense of self.
About a month before this “upheaval,” I was driving to work and listening to the radio, my usual morning routine, and just as I pulled into the driveway, this song came on. It was soulful and beautiful, and it said to “Look Up.” I listened and thought, Wow, what a nice way to begin my day.
I had never heard that song, though I am the kind of person who looks for the beauty the sky and clouds provide. Even at night I find the brightest star and say the poem: Star light, star bright first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight. My wish is the same each time. I wish for world peace.
I thought about the timing of hearing that song, and then about a month later it was on the radio again. Coincidence? I think not. As the weeks went by and the “upheaval” continued, I would do what the song said. I would look up. There was a time at work when I longed for the simplicity and uncomplicated life one of my co-workers had. I thought, how am I going to get through this? I wanted a “wise elder” to come into my life and take care of me. In essence, to let me know everything was going to be all right.
I realized I had to face this with as much practicality and sensibility that I had. I thought to myself, Jennifer you are so much smarter than this. I was naïve, I guess. Too trusting perhaps? I was certainly aware that other players in the mix were giving their soliloquy performance with nary a care for the angst it caused my family and me.
Ah, but the song continued to play, random as the breeze blowing through the trees. I remember one afternoon feeling overwhelmed, so I decided to take a walk around the building to gather my thoughts. As I walked into the warehouse, I noticed one of the skylights, the sun was shining through and the blue sky was almost beckoning for me to be a part of it. Was this the “looking up” that I needed to do?
As the weeks progressed, each afternoon I would take my break and go “look up” at the skylight. It was about that time a little passage came my way; a friend had asked me about what it meant when you continued to go over in your mind all of the ways a situation could play out. I had to think about that, so I did a little research and found out the terminology was called “outlining.” While many might see that as crossing every T and dotting every I, it actually means there are “too many cooks in the kitchen.” One needs to be definitive and succinct in what the desired outcome is, and by clouding it with minutiae, it has nowhere to go, so it remains in limbo.
I knew this firsthand, having grown up with an alcoholic mother and dysfunction with another family member who suffered from depression. I would play out every potential situation in my mind so I could be prepared for anything. This is not to be hurtful to my mom, may she rest in peace; she had no problem admitting she was a drinker. I don’t think she had the tools to want to get better. I think she drank because in some way it eased her pain. And I’m happy to say the other member has found a path that works. Often that person has “championed” me, comparing me to a pioneer woman who has the ability to persevere through well…basically anything.
It’s the oddest feeling when you’re enmeshed in a situation, where the truth that was originally given to you changes instantly. Regardless of the legal paperwork and years of collective decision-making with all parties involved, it had now sadly become a “he said, she said” game of cat and mouse. But I didn’t want to play.
Yet, the song continued to remind me, “Look Up.” The skylight continued to shine ever so bright as I would take my walk around the building and life was still moving forward. In time I realized I had essentially put the lock on my life, and isn’t it interesting that there is a one-letter differential in the word lock and look? Only I could set myself free.
In fact another song with the words, “Look Up,” came into my life many moons after that and there was a lovely phrase embedded in the lyrics, saying, “If the stars should fall from the sky, I will put them all back in time, so you know that when they shine, they shine for you.” Those connections of the sky, stars and shine were all gentle reminders of a time in my life that had contained a star that had simply burned out, and although that one was gone, there were so many more that had replaced it. They whispered to me, “Remember, Jennifer, the sky is endless and with that means the possibilities are also endless.”
I’ll leave you with this question: What have you locked yourself into? What if all you needed to do was to look up, because after all, you were the one holding the key.
Jennifer Danny is a Santa Clarita resident.