Before fixing what you're looking at...
The following story is told by Mark Nepo in his “the Book of Awakening”
“Before fixing what you’re looking at, check what you’re looking through.
It was a beautiful sun filled day. I had driven 300 miles to see her. She was ninety- and had been in one room for close to eight months. I was her first-born grandson and she was so happy to see me. But after catching up, we sat in silence on the edge of her bed, and finally, she complained how gray a day it was.
I realized then that her one window hadn’t been cleaned in almost a year. When I said this, she chuckled, as only someone of ninety-four can, and uttered with her Russian accent, “Got a dirty eye, see a dirty world.”
It is the same with our minds and hearts. For our very self is the one window we have into this life. And so often we suffer the mood of a dirty window, believing the brilliant world gray.
Perhaps the purpose of authentic relationship is to help each other keep our minds and hearts clear. Perhaps inner work is the ordinary art of window washing, so that the day is fully the day.”
This story and so many more in the world of philosophy challenge us to see the world through new eyes.
As we departed 2019, I read so much on social media of people talking about how bad 2019 was only to usher in the covid era in 2020. After nearly a year of social distancing, civil unrest, and seemingly eternal fires, the social media posts read good riddens to 2020 hoping for a better 2021. And now, here we are in 2021 with attacks on the US capitol, new covid strains, record low temperatures and accompanied power outages. The hits keep rolling. If we are looking through a dirty eye, that may be all that we can see.
This world has seen and endured worse. From the black death and multiple flu pandemics to civil and world wars struggle is nothing new to this planet and its human inhabitants. And while these disasters are all consuming when they occur, they are not the totality of the human experience even at their height. The sun rises again seemingly more brilliant than the last and there is more color and life to living if we choose to see it. Can you see it?
Even when we are isolated, there is irrepressible love of friends, family, and even pets that cannot be denied. When we look more closely we can see the union of people joining to oppose injustice and disease and we see random acts of kindness, random acts of humanity on the rise to battle against violence and fear. Can you see it?
Clean your windows. Look today for what is right rather than what is wrong. In this moment, can you name three things you are grateful for? Seriously, stop reading and take a pause to be grateful.
How does your head and your heart feel when you pause for gratitude? Step in and look a little closer to see the truly amazing little things that are right now. Or step back and look at the big picture. At any given moment there is likely more right than wrong with the world. Keep that in perspective in mind.
Garrett Stangel, MA
Health and Performance Coach
For more help managing the stress of the day, check out some of our other blogs or reach out to a health coach to learn how to cultivate your own sunshine.