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August 16th, 2019
Where does the sky start?
Gazing upwards can give the feeling that the sky is far away, that it’s the place of planes and clouds. But raise your hand towards the heavens and then looking at your hand, ask: where exactly is it really?
Does it not touch the sky? Does it not reside in the sky?
The meteorological phenomenon of fog, is just a low flying cloud that touches the ground.
If the sky touches the ground then do we not by default touch the sky the moment we walk outside? We might even reclassify buildings as a strange subterranean landform.
If you entered a cave somewhere on the Himalayan plateau - and no one would argue that you’ve gone subterranean - you’d be at a much higher ‘altitude’ compared to the rest of the planet.
All the buildings we’ve build are composed of the earth in some respect. We’ve simply reorganized, purified and recombined all of these earthly ingredients and joined and stacked them in novel ways. If you’re indoors, then the ceiling above you is fundamentally part of the earth. And hence, we are subterranean, even when we are in the penthouse of the tallest skyscraper.
But venture outside and you touch the sky.
Of course it never feels like this. Never seems like it.
And here lies an analogy so ripe it’s practically foul.
The phrase ‘touch the sky’ litters the lexicon of rappers, and leadership jargon and the motivation we try to impart to children.
The assumption is that we can somehow work hard and rise to touch the sky as though we finally achieve some sort of apotheosis.
(As a side note, that iconic dome on top of the United States Capitol building has a painting on the inside of it called ‘The Apotheosis of Washington’ which depicts George Washington becoming a god among angels in the heavenly clouds.)
But of course Washington never actually flew up into the sky. He accomplished everything on the ground.
For those who yearn for something better, something greater, that sort of success can feel unfathomably far away, just as the sky seems far away.
Without seeing the flaw in the image, the feeling is paradoxical, you can always move a little higher, but at what point do you touch the sky?
Realizing that we already touch the sky can collapse the feeling that there is an impassable gulf between us and the things we wish to accomplish.
As is so often the case, it’s merely just a matter of getting started.
Touching the sky is really a paradox of perspective.