Looking and Walking at the Same Time

When you walk, where do you look?

Generally, you can look in one of three directions: down, up, or straight ahead. It seems that most people, including myself, naturally look down. By experimenting and being conscious of where I look while I walk, I0ˆ9ve noticed a correlation between my thoughts and the direction that I0ˆ9m looking. There is an interesting causal relationship as well: certain types of thoughts will cause you to look in a certain direction, and looking in a certain direction will cause certain types of thoughts.

Down: The Internal.
When I look down, I am looking into myself. I am immersed in my own train of thought, imagining conversations or scenarios, or humming a song that0ˆ9s stuck in my head. I highly aware of my immediate surroundings, say, what0ˆ9s within six feet of me, but am relatively unaware of what0ˆ9s outside my small field of vision. Looking down can, but does not necessarily, mean that I0ˆ9m melancholy. The farther down I look, the more absorbed I am in my thoughts.

Up: The External
I notice this most when I0ˆ9m walking downtown, because I always look up to the tops of the skyscrapers like a perpetual tourist. My thoughts tend to be less about myself, and more about the larger structures in which I exist: society, life, matter. I feel like a small ant working in a large colony. My thoughts are of what everyone and everything has in common, rather than what0ˆ9s makes me unique. When I ride the El, I particularly feel like a small part of a vast system moving thousands of people all over the city; and I tend to look up. Or maybe I look up because the advertisements attract my attention. I don0ˆ9t know--I0ˆ9m speaking generally.

Straight Ahead: The Happy Medium
Looking at the horizon, it seems, has moderate elements of looking up and looking down. Straight ahead is when I feel most aware. Perhaps it0ˆ9s the harmonious balance of the internal and external self. I also feel the most self-confident, strong, and in control. I walk with focus and determination. I most often look straight ahead immediately after something happy or affirming happened, such as doing well on a test.

Note: In addition to the above thought patterns, looking down results in less stumbling, and your shoes remaining cleaner. Looking up increases stumbling frequency and dirties your shoes.

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