What You Can Learn From The View From Your Rooftop


Every time I go to my rooftop, I learn something. It’s something subtle but intense — something simultaneously abstract and acute. It’s more of a feeling than a fact, more of a sense of certainty and stability, than a new skill or knowledge.

It’s the type of learning that expands from the inside out. It feels like a blossoming truth, a quiet sunrise in your soul and suddenly, things are illuminated. It emerges in an intuitive way — unaggressive, but adamant in a way only truth can. It’s the type of revelation that is its own proof; an understanding that begins and ends in a single moment.

It’s a moment in which everything is so simple, so clear. If there is so much magic to be found by simply sitting on a rooftop, seeing the sun from a different angle, then really, how can any moment lack discovery?

I can never pinpoint the exact meaning of the revelation that washes over me every time I step foot on that rooftop, but for all its linguistic elusiveness, it resonates internally in a deeper sense, more clearly than many things I’m able to articulate. I think it evades complete explanation because it’s not one thing, but many.

It’s an indisputable reverence for all things simple — for the power and potential in every pulsing being, the possibility of every moment to become magnificent. It’s this contentment, in knowing, even if fleetingly, what matters most, and in this consciousness, losing sight of every worry, stress, and concern. It’s actually seeing other people, the cracks in the sidewalk, a blade of grass, the way the light reflects off a lingering puddle.

The power in whatever happens in this moment lies in its multi-dimensional nature; it’s not a singular revelation, but a sudden appreciation of the brilliance hidden in everything. In that instant, the entire world is a muse.

It’s seeing the vastness of the sky and feeling comforted rather than belittled by your smallness in its context.

It’s looking at the calmness of the clouds — present yet transient, and remembering to breathe. It somehow serves as a reminder that the best way to handle getting caught in a rainstorm is to resign yourself to experiencing it. Dodging raindrops becomes a cold, wet exercise in futility, but deciding to accept getting caught in a rainstorm is nature’s free catharsis. I’ve found this mentality can apply to other symbolic “storms” we may face in life.

It’s tuning into the movement of a breeze, and understanding that progression can be quiet and consistent; that fortitude need not be proclaimed to be potent.

It’s seeing graffiti – remnants of a previous encounter, literally leftovers from another moment in time – and being hit with the recognition of every single person’s possession of a story. It’s being humbled by being one story among many, and being overcome with a surging desire to hear these stories, to encounter strangers and learn from them. It’s the realization that we can always learn from people who have experienced something different than we have; it’s a new lens added to our personal perspective, thus granting us a wider, more versatile view of our own existence.

It’s seeing an old house and feeling the weight and meaning in the history held in its walls. It’s catching someone’s gaze and being hit with the magnitude of value behind a human life. You and I, we’re alive. It’s unfathomable, and so cool.

Perhaps more importantly, it’s what the aftermath of this moment is. I leave the rooftop, and I feel a compelling sense of what I must do more of, all these little vows I make to myself and the world I just saw from a bird’s eye view.

I must tell people I love, that I love them. Tell them often. Tell them why I love them; tell them why they are amazing. Never stifle what should be shared; never cage what should be celebrated. In vocalizing the value of love in your life, you are less likely to forget its significance. Often it is a sobering thought to truly imagine where we would be without the support of our loved ones.

That I must give gifts for no reason (personally, I consider this the very best reason), and that I should always offer to help people carry strollers up the stairs. Just be kinder and more helpful in general. There are so many opportunities for quiet, easy kindness, but every drop helps dilute apathy.

That I should follow through on plans because in retrospect it’s always the decision that feels better — but that I still shouldn’t be afraid to say no. There is great empowerment in learning to say no. Just plain old “no,” without disclaimer, explanation, or follow up. No. It’s important to remember that saying no is something you’re entitled to do.

Up there on my roof, I vowed to intentionally enter the realm beyond my comfort zone. Discomfort is the doorway to growth — a doorway I know I shuffle by on many occasions, but I’m trying to force myself through it more often. And I told myself that when situations are difficult, uncomfortable, challenging, or painful, I should lean into them.

That I should approach each day with a willingness to be surprised, to change my mind, to expand my outlook, to let go of disappointments, to take a risk, to stand up for what I believe, to rediscover old passions, and to always look deliberately at the people in my life, maintaining presence of mind and heart. I learned to remember how little I know, and therefore, how much I can learn. To realize how many people in this world I will never meet, never approach the outskirts of their existence, and therefore, how incredibly unbelievable and amazing that my path unraveled in such a way to bring me together with the people in my life.

And I always learn to go up on my rooftop more often.

featured image – Maria Alvarez