Reference Framing

Summer clouds (Anna Spencer  |  unsplash.com)Summer clouds (Anna Spencer | unsplash.com)

Imagine dangling from a precipice over a bottomless abyss. It happened to me once. I had no climbing gear and there was no safety net. I can tell you: it was scary.

It was not in the Himalayas — they would not be high enough for that experience, anyway. It was on a football field!

I was a guest at a wedding of some friends in the early 2000s. It was in a small city on a clear and sunny day, and the venue was next to the local football field.

At some moment I decided to lose the crowds and rest a bit. I lied down in the grass of the football pitch. Just flat on my back. Squinting into the blue air for a while, until my eyes adjusted to the relatively bright sky.

The air was royal blue with only sparse clusters of snow-white clouds, as if by way of decoration. They were slowly floating to one side like a migrating herd of some grazing animals.

The sight lulled me to a quiet, near-perfect relaxation. Lying on a straight field even my peripheral vision was not disturbed by anything. I felt my back touching the grass, but all that my eyes could see was the immense expanse of deep blueness.

That's when I played a little trick on my mind — I said to myself: what if I do not peer high up into the sky but down, deep into an immense blue abyss?

At that moment it was easy. And for the next while even frightening. Suddenly I realized that there was nothing between me and the depths, that my only safety was the light connection of my back against the grassy ceiling. My heartbeat quickened and I must admit I flinched, instinctively grabbing some grass blades in a feeble attempt to tether myself to spaceship Earth. The next moment I was back in reality.

Then I relaxed again and — cautiously — I inverted my frame of reference once again. It was still a bit scary, but dizzyingly beautiful at the same time. I revelled in the feeling of peering into the infinity of the cosmos through the thin layer of the atmosphere, attached to my planet only by a gentle pull of gravitation. It was exciting. It was liberating. It was unforgettable.

And I find it difficult to replicate it with the same intensity. I tried a few times — but there was always something occluding my peripheral vision. Or the weather was different — I think it helps when there are clouds but they must be crystal clear and far away. Maybe I simply did not spend enough time. It sometimes takes a bit of time to calm down enough to be able to play with one's frame of reference. Or perhaps it was an unique moment in my life when I managed, if briefly, to completely change the accepted reality.

Still, I am by no means ever going to stop trying. And if you stumble over me lying in the grass at night, don't be surprised. My dream is to repeat this experience on a starry, starry night!

Tomáš Fülöpp
Jacques Boonstraat 3, Anderlecht, Belgium
March 28, 2004, November 7, 2011, July 21, 2018, July 22, 2018, July 23, 2018, July 24, 2018, November 29, 2018
Tomáš Fülöpp (2012)

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Tagsskydepthheightvertigocloudexperienceillusionstory
LanguageENGLISH Content typeARTICLELast updateFEBRUARY 24, 2024 AT 23:05:16 UTC