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Friday, June 5, 2015

Looking Up

Years ago, in the days of the VCR, My boss and I were chatting about old movies, which I have loved for most of my life. In those days, AMC was the American Movie Classics channel and had commercial-free, unedited older movies like TCM does now. Pam mentioned a movie that I had never heard of, saying that she absolutely loved it and hadn't seen it in years. As luck would have it, the movie came on within a short time of our conversation, so I decided to record it as a surprise for her. 

I sat down to watch this movie while it was being taped and cringed inwardly at the schmaltzy title song that was being sung during the opening credits. But the stars were great, so I decided to give it a try. The movie was called An Affair to Remember, and the stars were Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Before I knew it, I loved the movie, too. Cary Grant's playboy character is sailing on a ship to New York to reunite with the rich fiancee that he probably doesn't really love. Deborah Kerr is sailing back to the well-to-do man who pays for her clothes and apartment and whatnot. Naturally, the two meet and fall deeply in love on the journey. Knowing that neither of them has any money to start a life together at the time, they agree to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building. They say that if one of them doesn't show up it will be for a darn good reason.

The time passes, and Grant waits for several hours on the observation deck for Kerr. He doesn't realize that the reason she doesn't show up is because she was hit by a vehicle when she got out of her taxi. Her injuries leave her unable to walk and she does not want to be a burden to the man she loves. He continues painting, heartbroken and full of anger, and she works as a music teacher. He happens to see her at a theater with her former love but doesn't realize that while she is sitting in the audience her wheelchair is waiting in the wings. The next day is Christmas, and he shows up at her apartment. While they are talking, he still doesn't realize that her legs are up on the sofa because she can't walk. I won't spoil it for you in case you decide to watch the movie, but he comes to realize that she is unable to walk, and that is why she never showed up at their meeting place. She tells him, "I was looking up...it was the nearest thing to heaven!" 

I'm sure that some of you are thinking that this may be the schmaltziest thing you've heard in a long time. You may also wonder why I've taken so much of your time telling you about this movie which I now love. It's because of something delightful that we saw just a few days ago. We were coming home and had just turned into our apartment complex. As we pulled up to a stop sign, I saw a bunny on the lawn perhaps fifteen feet in front of us. Being admittedly mature but having never completely grown up, I was delighted to see this lovely wild creature peacefully grazing on the lawn. Then, at almost the same moment, both Trent and I looked up. That's when we saw the Big Yellow Dog, meaning a labrador retriever or golden retriever or some variation thereof. He was standing on a second-floor balcony, his attention riveted on the bunny in the grass below. 

We both laughed with joy at the sight on the dog so completely focused on the bunny, which was oblivious because it was completed focused on the tender, delicious, green grass. Every muscle in the dog's body was tensed and all of its attention was on the grazing rabbit. I don't know if the dog was tracking potential prey and dreaming of a nice wild-rabbit dinner, or if he was just wondering if this was a little critter with whom he might really enjoy playing. That really was beside the point, I suppose. The point is that because we looked up, we got to see the whole picture. No, it wasn't the nearest thing to heaven. Okay, it might have been that for the bunny and the dog. But because we looked up, we had an even more delightful moment.

Sometimes in our lives, we get focused on the little or large details of our lives and forget to look up. We miss seeing things like dogs enraptured at the sight of a bunny in the grass. The smile of a happy child isn't seen. Clouds that look like lions, beautiful sunsets, trees in bloom, and double rainbows all may pass unnoticed. And yes, sometimes when we look up we see other things as well. Storm clouds, cracks in the walls, or maybe someone who needs a bit of help or a kind word. They're all around us, just waiting to be seen. I hope that we can all remember to take a moment now and then to just look up.