POV: An Introduction.

Friday, April 5, 2013

POV ("point of view") is a new series I hope to begin featuring regularly on Sho & Tell. I’ll be writing about many of the same themes I addressed in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph (most likely an Instagram, as I’m learning to embrace that, too), and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. The idea is a work in progress, so I hope you’ll bear with me as I sort out the kinks. 

Looking Up.

I was walking to meet a friend for pie. It was mid-morning, two weeks ago, and the sky, freckled with snowflakes, was a silvery gray, the color of tin. I stomped, as I like to do in the snow, and listened to a bird somewhere in the air above me. I tried to think if this was a sign of spring.

It was cold, though. And wet. I remember that clearly.

I remember two other things very clearly about that morning: the first was that someone I loved told me he thought the way I lived my life was more “eighteen than twenty-eight.” And hours later, I found out that my roommates would be moving out of our apartment in two months’ time, and I’d have to find a new place to live.

The following weekend, I strolled my neighborhood in the sunshine, daydreaming about where to move. As I walked, I looked up at the buildings around me, buildings I’d passed countless times in the two years I’d spent living in the area - and I realized, bewildered, that I’d never really seen them before.

I’d seen the painted doors, the brick facades, stoops the color of rust. But looking upward, I discovered something else.

The tops of New York apartment buildings, it turns out, are a wonder. The fading colors, the detailed moldings, the crumbling bricks - noticing these things reminded me that I live in a city with history, a city that has anchored me as I build a history of my own. 

My friend Megan wrote an essay recently called A Museum in the Mind of Someone Contemplating the Sky. In it, she says, “I look at the sky less often in New York than in any other place I’ve lived…An abundance of eye level shapes and movements keep my gaze from drifting up to what looks empty.”

Often, I’ve realized that I, too, notice only what’s in front of me. Cracks in the sidewalks, mannequins in store windows, endless traffic. What I choose to focus on – whether it’s an object in my field of vision or a conversation that made me cry – is, more often than not, peripheral.


The other day, on my way to a coffee shop, I stopped to drop a few bags of recycling in the cans in front of my building. Somewhere above me, a voice rang out. “Hello, neighbor!”

I looked up. There, in a window one floor up, was a face, smiling. “Hello,” I said back.

Looking up, I've found, reveals much we wouldn't see otherwise. Things we miss when we're lost in thought, looking straight ahead. 

Faces, colors, open windows. Future homes. Snowflakes. Birds. 

Signs of spring.


Photo by my friend Emily Johnston Anderson - find her on Instagram at @ejaphoto. You can follow me, too, at @my_shokoko.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you so much for reading!


tara said...

:) Love this, Shoko! I told my husband that before we ever buy a house, we have to go for a run through the neighborhoods we're looking at moving into because I think you get a much different POV on things!

oh and p.s. living your life more 18 rather than 28 sounds WAY more fun!

Lindsay said...

thanks, shoko! i really enjoy your take on the often confusing business of growing up and look forward to more.

Joy said...

I'm so glad that you're starting POV up - it's great!!

Rose said...

When I'm facing uncertainty, looking up has always helped me too.

So glad you're writing here!


max said...

your writing always stops me in my tracks. so happy you're doing this new series.

Kathy YL Chan said...

Beautiful post! Can't wait for more in this series ^_^

angela said...

It's so true, we have the power to chose what we focus on, especially what we think about! That is such a wonderful gift!

Stephanie said...

love this. looking forward to reading more :)

eileen ragan | leaner by the lake said...

You had me at "I was walking to meet a friend for pie."

Looking forward to this new series. Will be following along here and via instragram!

Have a lovely weekend!


Hannah Margaret Allen said...

Speaking to my heart Shoko. I just love your perspective. Just love it. This is the type of writing that truly inspires me most. Can't wait for more.

Indian Lake Theater Film Club said...

lovely shoko!

sherry said...

You are a breath of fresh air. Looking forward to more POV!
PS: Enjoyed Megan's essay, too. She writes very well, too.

Kathy said...

This makes my heart bloom. More, please!

Shoko said...

Thank you so, so much, everyone. I'm so lucky to have you all - your support means the world!

Loulou said...

Ok, you had me at pie ... And at the prospect of having more opportunity to read your always inspiring writing.

I am a bit of the opposite, in that I find myself looking all around and up, rather than where I'm going, when I'm out walking. The habit (and a sprained ankle last year, obtained by not looking where I was stepping) makes me aware that I have to be careful with my footing, as we have many cracked and uneven sidewalks here!

Raquel R. said...

I love your fresh look at things. Your piece of writing is the proof that amazing things surround us every day. We just have to look hard. Can’t wait for the next POV!

Fräulein Katie said...

Your perspective is quite lovely and an inspiration. Can't wait for the next installment!

Love from Germany,


Rachel @ Existation said...

Hooray! I'm so glad that you'll still be doing some personal writing; I was sad when your Equals Record column ended. You have such a way with storytelling, Shoko.

I, too, forget to notice more than what is right in front of my face. Even though LA is still so new to me, I've already gotten into the bad habit of simply going through the paces of my everyday life, not exploring as much, etc. That's why I love having visitors: every time I play tour guide, I see my surroundings with fresh eyes, and it reinvigorates my senses and helps me to appreciate everything a little bit more.

Excited for more of these posts from you!

Tonette Cruise said...

wow I love your blog! your way of writing is lovely and very inspiring! I like how you write your personal thoughts I wish I could write like you someday.,


Bea said...

I really loved this post Shoko, your writing is so beautiful! And so true. Lately I feel like I'm walking so fast all the time and looking straight ahead all the time and there's something exhausting about it all. You've inspired me to slow down today. To take a deep breath. And look up. Thank you.

Claire said...

What a lovely post, Shoko! I'm very much looking forward to reading this series!

I agree with you about the importance of taking the time to look up! I feel like I never have the time to do so, because I'm always rushing somewhere. But the sad thing is, sometimes I do have the time, and I get self conscious that "looking up" and taking the time to explore and appreciate this city around me will make me look like a tourist. And what could be worse than that?! (Note sarcasm.)

I used to love taking pictures of the sky with the tops of buildings just visible at the very bottom of the frame.

This past weekend, I was headed to dinner in the West Village and decided to take some time to look up and appreciate the architecture. It was brief, but it was good enough. So, thank you for the reminder to do so!

Melissa said...

I need to focus on this more as well. I'm constantly staring at my feet and where I am walking instead of really taking in my surrounding. Looking without seeing. I'm very excited about this new series!

Good luck with the apartment hunting!

Sharon Beesley said...

i love everything you write :)

Nie said...

I've been silently reading your blog for the last year or so and I just wanted to drop you a little note to say how much I love it.

This piece in particular though was just - fantastic! Good stuff!

Have a good day,



Akiko said...

This is such a beautiful writing and it's so true. I'm amazed by how well you described it though (as always). You're so talented, shoko! I'm so happy that you started doing this post and looking forward to it next one :) xo akiko
Style Imported

Marie said...

I am so excited for this new series!! I have been waiting to see what's next since Looking Forward came to a close. This blog brings so much joy, but I also love the reflective writing that you do.

Mel said...

This is beautiful! What a great writing and photography exercise.

joeycake said...


Trish said...

You have a lovely writing style - so poetic! Keep up the great work!

Shoko said...

Thank you all so much again. I feel so honored and so completely floored to have such wonderful and thoughtful readers. I can't thank you enough.


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