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A Window View

A Soul with a View

Ever wished for a room with a view? I think we all have. When we book a rental for a few days away, buy a plane ticket, or find our seat on the bus, most of us look for a seat near the window. Maybe because without that view we don’t want to feel confined and trapped in our thoughts for the duration of the trip.

How about on a daily basis? Where do we find our window view? Our perspective is our window view of the world. Perspective is a gift and can be a two-edged sword, working both for or against us, depending on how we wield it. Perspective serves as an internal compass that directs our attitude, our motivations, our responses, and ultimately our successes and our failures. Perspective is everything. We might be tempted to let the deep and powerful truths of this simple and often-used statement pass us by as trite and cliche. I challenge you to pause today and consider the mystery of this simple statement and the profound truth hidden within as we begin to unlock its mystery. Take a look with me as a scene unfolds in a hospital room where Perspective’s mysterious power is shown in its effect on the outlook of two individuals. This is a story about two patients sharing a hospital room. One of the patients was positioned next to the room’s only window. This patient would be raised up to a sitting position each day for an hour in order to drain fluid from his lungs. The other patient was on the other side of the room, with no window view and would lie flat on his back all day.  The two roommates formed a friendship and began to talk about their families and lives as they passed the hours each day. One day, the patient on the other side of the room expressed envy about his roommate’s ability to see out the window. From that day on, the patient by the window would describe to his roommate all that he could see outside the window.  The patient with the view described kids playing in the street, owners walking their dogs, flowers and birds, sunshine, rain, and rainbows, and even parades as they passed. Although the patient without window view could not see for himself all these events, he could picture them vividly as they were described and the thoughts lifted his spirits. Time passed, one morning the patient next to the window passed away. The nurses carried his body away to rest, while the roommate was left alone in the room, grieving the loss of his friend. As the days elapsed since his roommate’s passing, the lonely patient began to miss his “window view” through his roommates daily descriptions of the outside. He expressed his desire to be by the window and asked the nurse to be moved to the other side of the room. After much ado, the patient was settled next to the window as he’d always desired. When he gained enough strength, he struggled to open the curtains to finally see out the window himself. Upon parting the curtains, he was confronted with a brick wall instead of the beautiful outside world that his friend had described! Baffled and frustrated, the man demanded of the nurse when the wall had been installed and why had they blocked the window?! The nurse, also baffled, replied that the wall had always been there. Feeling deeply disappointed and betrayed, the man became angry and asked why his friend would lie to him about what he saw out the window! The nurse patiently replied, “perhaps he wanted to encourage you and bring you happiness. But you see, Sir, your roommate was blind.”  This story always strikes a chord in me. From the kindness of the blind roommate who described the beautiful scenes for his discouraged friend, knowing how desperately he was to see the window view, to witnessing the power of the encouragement in sustaining the patient who relied on that outside inspiration to inform his spirits, I am deeply impacted by both the resiliency and the fragility of the human soul.  How was the blind man able to describe such beauty and create an intricate scene of life outside the window, so much so that the man with no view actually could visualize and believe the scene was real and true? Why did this non-existent scene inspire him so much? And how could it be that two men lying in the hospital could have such different perspectives? So what does it mean to have perspective? 
Webster’s Dictionary defines perspective as: 
  1. A mental view or prospect; A visible scene
  2. The interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed; the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance
  3. The appearance to the eye of objects in respect to their relative distance and positions
This story is an excellent example of how our mental view affects our experience. The mental picture we carry in our mind has a powerful impact on our experience and how we navigate all the ups and downs that life throws our way. If our mental picture is bleak, our mental health is weakened and we will respond negatively no matter our circumstances. We aren’t told what ailed each of the men to land them both in the hospital, sharing a space. It certainly appears that the one who seemed to be the most disadvantaged, had, in reality, the greatest advantage simply because he chose to see a beautiful world instead of a dreary one.  The good news is that we have more control over our perspective and our mental health than we know. The Big Secret: We all already have a perspective, and we can choose how to focus it. The biggest lesson we can learn from the two men in our story is the power of creating your own mental view. Instead of being bitter about not being able to see at all and engaging his roommate in a “Who’s in worst shape” contest, the blind roommate realized that he had an opportunity to create a beautiful world for the both of them, right there in their hospital room. Let me challenge you today to begin to create a beautiful and positive mental view. The man near the window had an advantage over his roommate in the fact that he didn’t have the distraction of seeing the dreary world.  I suggest we close our eyes and block out the distractions. Create a picture in our minds of something that lifts our spirits. I love to picture myself walking through a forest, with the squirrels scurrying and climbing the trees, chattering at me as I walk. The trees are a mix of evergreen pine and fur with leafy maples and alders, just beginning to change color. The weather is clear and pleasant, the temperature comfortable- not too hot, not too cold. I hear birds singing all around me, varieties of birds with different songs. I don’t have a destination, I am just walking and feeling the peacefulness of the forest. I take a deep breath and fill my lungs with the clean forest air. I feel the weight of my concerns lift off of my shoulders. I reach my hands into the air and stretch, feeling the tension go. I reach my hands out my sides as far as I can reach, then I reach down behind my back and stretch my shoulders back, taking a deep breath as I straighten my back. As I feel my body relax and refresh, I pray. “Father God, thank you for the day you have given me. I am grateful for today as a new day and a  fresh start. Help me to see the good in today. Help me to feel your comfort and your peace. Help me see things in a new way and to share this view with others. In your name, Amen.” As I open my eyes, I take another deep breath and let these thoughts settle into my heart.  Wherever I am, I endeavor to keep this peace with me as I go about my day.  

Your positive mental view may not include forests and birds, maybe yours is kittens playing with yarn, a trip to the beach, or kids playing at the park. Maybe your mental view is the picture of you walking out one of your goals. Create a picture that works best for you, and remember, your picture can change from day to day. Embrace this process and allow yourself the valuable time of resetting your mental image for better mental health and a higher quality experience. 

You are worth it. Your mental health is worth it. Your life is worth it. I would love to hear about the mental view you create! If you would like to share your scene, please submit in the box below.  

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