essay writing process

Looking Down to Find Yourself

One of the things I miss about being pandemic homebound is flying to a different place. I’m not big on flying but once I get on the plane, and reassure myself the pilot DOES know what he/she is doing, everything is okay. I’ll even sit in the window seat. I love flying in the daytime and catching glimpses between the clouds of a surreal landscape below. Too often trapped on the ground looking up, looking down completely rearranges my thinking. Western brown landscape to the bright greens of the East coast. No matter how often I make that trip, I find new things to marvel over. 

The different perspective gives rise to new poetry. I want to describe what I’m experiencing to my non-flying friends and others that tend to book the aisle seats. I want them to look through my poem and catch a glimpse out the window. For poets, it’s like the 5 blind men describing the elephant. Some of us zoom in on city sprawl. Others are amazed at the tidy regulation of civilization—and nature. Flying to Europe, the curve of the earth fascinated me. Sure I’d read about it, but seeing it gave rise to all kinds of poem and story ideas, as did flying through clouds, over clouds, and glimpses of the dappled landscape below. 

You don’t even have to hop on a plane to change your worldview. Drones offer glimpses of the world from above, but not so far above that the world shrinks to tiny abstracts. Drone’s eye views are the perfect compromise, and there are plenty of sites out there featuring images gathered from our little robot overlords. (If you really want to experience being a drone firsthand, find a nature/country of the world documentary playing on an IMAX screen. Just don’t sit in the front row if you don’t do well on rollercoasters. I speak from experience.)

Change your focus. Change your perspective. Write from a bird’s eye point of view. Consider the images below. What hits you first? Did your brain try and make an association to make sense of the image? Can you push past that? How can your poetry mind reinterpret the world from this new viewpoint?