look up, look out


Today I ran along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail– a paved/dirt path that curves along the Wasatch Mountains and offers spectacular views of both peaks and valleys. My local segment is among the most ambitious, with three bridges that guide cyclists and runners over the multiple freeway lanes at the mouth of Parley’s Canyon.

I love running this path. Watching the cars and semi-trucks speed by below makes me feel strangely powerful as I traverse the gap. It’s the ultimate cross-walk.

But today, I was disturbed that every few feet on the path was spray-painted with crude, disgusting messages. Not artful graffiti, but lewd, crass expressions and images. As I ran, I tried to formulate a plan to paint it over clear it out erase it all, but as the miles clicked by and the profanity continued I was overcome with the enormity of the problem. It literally brought me down.

And then I crested the last hill and ran to the center of the third bridge. Safely suspended by tons of steel and cement, I followed four lanes of traffic buzzing below. My eyes swept up Parley’s Canyon where clouds shrouded the peaks, then down to the vast Salt Lake Valley, green and blooming and thriving below.


I was missing it.

Fixing my eyes on the trashy pavement brought only frustration. I absolutely couldn’t erase the graffiti during my morning run(maybe later) but at the moment it was only destroying the rare pleasure of extending my lungs and legs on a Saturday morning. I only had to look up and look out to see a wider view.

You’ve already caught the parable here, so I won’t beat it down. But isn’t it easy to look as the overwhelming garbage of life–it’s everywhere, and often overwhelming– and lose sight of the goodness all around?

So I have new resolve, when the ugliness spreads before me and sometimes, piles up to my shoulders and above my head, I won’t dwell on problems I can’t solve. I won’t let them become part of me, just as I won’t let the graffiti join my vocabulary.

I’ll look up and look out and find peace.

April 23, 2009
April 27, 2009



  1. Blue

    April 25, 2009

    there she goes again, seeing life lessons in the everyday moments. that’s one thing i absolutely love about you michelle! ♥

  2. Justine

    April 25, 2009

    I love that trail, too. Our stretch down here has a few rattlesnakes on it, though, so I haven’t been on it for a while! That had nothing to do with the astute observation you make, but anyway…

    I’m glad to hear you’re running again! Isn’t spring just the greatest!?

  3. Travelin'Oma

    April 26, 2009

    What a great parable. It’s easy to get stuck in the mud and miss the rainbow above!

  4. seven smiles

    April 26, 2009

    (This is jenny {from MD, we exchanged an email..})
    Just clicked over from segullah and so glad I did.
    I couldn’t agree more. There is so much garbage and distraction all around us! We need to look up and out! I’ve especially been concentrating on this very thing this past year–what a difference it has made in my life. I’m now in a better place to help my children look up and out as well. Thanks again for your parable and reminder. Love it.

  5. Selwyn

    April 26, 2009

    Wow, you have an amazing vista to run amongst!

    Hope you are settling well into running again.

  6. Kira

    April 27, 2009

    Thank you so much. I think I have had my head so deep in this newborn time I needed to lift my sights.

  7. Michelle Tall-Vilensky

    April 27, 2009

    Spot on Michelle! Spot on!

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