A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighborhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash.
“That laundry’s not clean!” Lisa exclaimed. “Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!”
John looked on but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, Lisa would make the same comments.
A few weeks later Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbor’s yard. She said to her husband, “Look, John—she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.”
John replied, “Well, dear, I have the answer for you. You’ll be interested to know that I got up early this morning and washed our windows!”
I love this anecdote and what it teaches us about perspectives. Are we looking through a window that needs cleaning? Are we making judgments when we don’t have all the facts? What do we see when we look at others? What judgments do we make about them?
Those are great questions to ponder and we would all do well to consider whether our view is clouded when we look at others.
I want to take this analogy one step further.
Let’s look at the actual window frame. We are the builders of the frames we view the world through. Our experiences, our values, our biases, our judgments, our preferences, our stories. Bit by bit, these build the windows we look out of each day. No one else can remodel or replace my window – it’s mine. I, alone, can change the shape, size, and location of my window.
My window limits my view. We could live on the same street and see different things because of the windows we look through. You may have a second-story view that overlooks a pond and think “What a lovely neighborhood.” I, on the other hand, may live in a first-floor apartment that has windows that look out on a busy street and think “It’s so noisy here.”
What if we apply the window analogy to how we look at people, situations, issues, or relationships? Are we taking a narrow view? Do we ever consider that another’s view isn’t wrong, just different? What if I tried to look at something through your window or I tried to understand how you have come to see things the way you do?
Sure, it takes self-awareness and effort to consider that our window is just OUR window and not THE window, but consider the benefits that come from an expanded view.
Lately, I have been thinking about how I have built my window on the world and what remodeling I might want to do. I invite you to do the same.