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Essay

Look up

By Samantha Loong

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We all have our good days and bad days. On some days, you might feel invincible — like nothing can touch you. On other days, it feels like everything and everyone is out to hurt you or to make your life miserable.

A while ago, I had one of my bad days. It was a particularly bad day of a particularly bad week. I was lost in my worries, thinking about the past and future. I felt anxious and jaded. Things were not looking up at all. And so I tried to distract myself by looking down — down into my phone.

I looked for animated GIFs of cute animals. That didn't work. I looked for inspirational quotes. They didn't seem relevant to my situation. Even my go-to video of two sea otters holding hands while floating on their backs failed to cheer me up.

So I put my phone away and waited on a crowded train platform, staring into space. The train arrived, and the moment the train doors opened, I noticed a young woman wearing a T-shirt with large letters. I pessimistically thought, "I wonder what weird English is on that?" But to my surprise, it simply stated, "I love the present time."

The message on that T-shirt unexpectedly reset my mood. I was so worried about my past and anxious about my future that I'd forgotten to notice what was going well in the present. I smiled at the young woman and boarded my train. Things suddenly started to look up.

Sometimes, once you start literally looking up, the universe — the real one, not the one in the palm of your hand — starts to help you out. It starts to give you some life lessons. My next lesson was the following day when, on another train platform, I noticed someone else wearing a T-shirt with large letters. This time the T-shirt read, "Your story isn't over yet." It reminded me that whatever tough time I'm having, I've always been adaptable, and have always bounced back. Nothing is ever permanent, and my story was definitely not going to end with me in a grouchy mood.

As my mood began to improve, I decided to treat myself to dinner at my local noodle shop. I left my phone in my bag and as I looked around the room, I noticed a calendar that said in Japanese, "You only live once." I'd seen that calendar so many times, but it was only now that I noticed its message.

The universe works in mysterious ways. And while there will always be things that make us laugh and bring us joy from our smart devices, sometimes the simplest way to lift your mood is to lift your head and look up.

上を向く

誰にでも調子の良いとき、悪いときがある。何もかもが悲観的に思えるときはうつむきがちになるが、意識して上を向くようにすると、自然と物事もうまくいき始めることがある。

The Japan Times ST: April 21, 2017

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2017年11月24日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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