Sunday, April 21, 2013

Windows into Lives

The view out my window is of my backyard--a short span of patchy green grass with a backdrop of a messy, tangled jungle of wilderness. Between the lawn, if you can call it that, and the woods is a short dropoff, where I literally drop off yard waste to compost. From my window viewpoint, you would have to know what it is to realize it is there. Since this is my property and I have lived here over two decades, I realize it reveals something of how I operate--not a full picture, but certainly part of one.

First the patchy lawn. We built this house in a briers-covered clearing of immature woods. The property is on a ridge made primarily of sand, which is wonderful to dig in but hard to keep plants alive in. We built on a modest budget that did not allow for bringing in loads of top soil for the grass. No sod laid down. The lawn came from seed, was sporadically watered, and has survived mostly on neglect and occasional fertilizer. Mercifully the backyard is mostly shaded, so it has some relief in times of drought. The front yard is not so lucky and it really shows. So what does this reveal about me?

1. I work with what I can afford, and that ain't bad.
2. I'm not too interested in perfect lawns. Golf courses have never drawn my attention.
3. I've been busy doing other things.

The messy wilderness is another matter. There are currently several fallen-over trees in view. Most of what you can see would be difficult to walk through because of all the undergrowth. What does this say?

1. I don't know how to use a chain saw. I recently asked to be shown how. The request was declined.
2. I can't control everything.
3. I let nature take its course in many instances.

The composting dropoff: It's not too unsightly from most viewpoints. It is serving a purpose, disposing of yard waste. It is not too far away and definitely not out of sight. So...

1. I decided to put it there because it was convenient.
2. I really don't care much what other people  may think about it.
3. I must do some yard work, since I create yard waste.

When I look over all these things, I get the definite impression of a laissez-faire attitude, and maybe laziness. But if my life was judged from a one-window viewpoint, people would never really understand who I am. Swivel the viewpoint ninety degrees to the left and you would see a terraced garden that has obviously taken some time, grueling effort, and creative thought--something that the first viewpoint gives no clue of. Back up a few feet from the window and you get a glimpse of the room the window is in. It is full of junk! Currently lying around are horseshoe magnets, a box of flashlights, a yogurt carton full of dirt, an empty aquarium and a box of electrical wire. This is a room that another science teacher would immediately recognize and respect.

Too often we look at others through just one window. Our exposure to their lives may be minimal, sporadic, and accidental, yet we make assumptions based on incomplete evidence. We may never suspect things about them that we cannot see. Some windows are public. Some are private. But they all give views that show us something. To know someone well, we need many windows pointing in many directions, and we need to be allowed to look. Sometimes the curtains are drawn, but when they are open, we can see a life from what is revealed through the window.


L. H. Lynch said...

Even messy back gardens on deary days can provide inspiration.

Reenie said...

FABULOUS post!! Totally speaking my language here! I'm terrible at grass and sometimes agonize over it- and other times admit I'm just plain bad at grass because I'd rather be doing something with flowers or vegetables. Meh.