Don't Look Down!
I’ve been watching the dry waller at work this week. Also I’ve been listening to him as he’s apparently unable to be certain of his own existence if he’s not singing, whistling or “pom–pa-pomming” to some inner melody as he goes about his business. He’s a very happy gentleman and he looks a little like Santa which makes me happy too. The only thing is – he wears stilts. This – I’m sure we can agree – is very clever and a brilliant idea enabling him to get to all the high places without the need for a ladder and speeds things up considerably. However, I have just discovered I have an irrational fear of stilts. I’m grateful for the fact that, unlike the circus people, he doesn’t wear extra long pants with ridiculously small shoes jammed onto his stilt feet. That would send me running round in small circles in a full blown panic but still – stilts. They’ve got to be at least a level seven on the creep-o-meter (the official creep-o-meter classification starts at level 1 for “unblinking stare” moves through to level 5 – “hairless cat” before heading to level 10 with “circus clown”).
I have chatted a little with this nice man and have shared morning pleasantries with him each day this week and as long as I continue to look up at his face I can converse cheerfully and earnestly and give him my undivided attention – right up until he shifts position even slightly. Then it all falls apart. I feel as though my eyes are screaming directly into my brain “DON’T LOOK DOWN!!!! DON’T LOOK DOWN!!!” while they slowly, inexorably start to slide down to the lower part of his body. This is what the French call “L’appel du vide” which literally translates as “The call of the void”, but is more significantly used to describe the instinctive urge to jump from high places.
I guess there’s a lesson here – keep looking up. As long as your focus is on God, and you can keep your face turned to him, your all-too-human fears and anxieties can’t touch you and you can go about your day happily. Don’t listen to the crescendo within that keeps telling you to look down – you will rarely get any lasting pleasure from what you find down there.
"They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed."