Upside-Down Thoughts

Painter: Frank Stella

Painter: Frank Stella

Like many children who are fortunate enough to have parents like mine, parents who wish to educate and influence their children in a variety of skills and opportunities, I took piano lessons for a few years. Unlike my brother, whose playing came naturally to him, I never found enough interest in it to want to practice. As a rule, I had to practice for a minimum of an hour a day, to hone my skills and be prepared for each week’s lesson.

To add to my disinterest in playing, my piano teacher was one of the most terrifying people I had ever met in my young life. If you have seen the movie Big Fish, picture the “witch” that lives alone, and upon looking her in the eye, you see your death. Except with this woman, the end never seemed near enough, and she never turned into a misunderstood fictional character. She truly was a terrifying human.

For both of these reasons, I found myself during practice time finding ways to entertain myself. Whether it was sitting at the piano, plucking at the keys with my poor (or angelic, whichever way you look at it) cat’s paws, finding patterns within the music, or drawing pictures on the sheets, I was always trying to do something else.

My all-time favorite thing to do was to lay on my back on the piano bench, looking at things upside-down. While I was taking piano lessons, we still lived at my family’s farm, a spacious old house built to accommodate at one point a family of 15. My parents have been antique collectors since before I was born, so our house has always been filled with furniture, glassware, lamps, mirrors, paintings, everything outside of modern-day necessities aging anywhere between 40 to 150 years older than present. This led my upside-down experiences down a historically-swapped day dream. While my parents’ tastes don’t always aline with my own, it couldn’t be helped that their’s would influence my own tastes one way or another. While their tastes lean toward Victorian curves and pastels, I enjoy more postmodernism pop-art, 1960s minimalism, and a missionary-style cabinet or two.

Though day dreaming wasn’t uncommon in my childhood, I got lost in these thoughts to such a degree that I still enjoy laying upside-down when I need inspired, need to look at things differently, need to be lost in my thoughts. I can lay here in my apartment that is decorated with my tastes inspired by my parents’ and just look: the speed limit sign that my mom & I “obtained” one laughter-filled afternoon, a large red crayon coin bank belonging in a child’s room but still holding my interest, Andy Warhol prints from middle school, post cards from Tate Modern, an enormous lamp from the ’80s. These things rearrange themselves in my thoughts while I get lost: everything is more organized this way. While I “walk” my feet along the crisp white ceiling, all of life’s nonsense has dropped to the floor, and out of my way. All the homework, applications, resumes, obligations have stopped impeding my clear mindset and straight-forward inspiration has fallen upon me. I imagine walking on this ceiling right out of my bedroom and into the world a more level-headed version of myself. 

If only we could lay on our backs and see the world upside-down whenever we needed to calm down and de-stress. If you’ve never done it, I highly suggest it. Get lost in your thoughts, and reawaken with childish wonder, happiness, inspiration.