Okay, maybe it was a little more complicated than that. But only just a little.
Our boy was graduating from high school. Our girl had moved out of the apartment in our basement into one with her fiancé. The nest was emptying before our eyes. What’s more, after working on the renovation of our home for nearly four years, we were up to our pitchforks in the last, massive landscaping project. We took down four haggard-looking trees from the front yard to open up views to the house and simultaneously opened a wide swath of space that needed to be designed, planted, weeded, seeded, and mulched. At the same time, spring was springing and everything on our property seemed to need tending or pruning or planting or transplanting or fixing or reworking.
Then sprinkle on top of that some of my love for making a plan (a love that is, at least in part, a sugar coating on my distaste for the unknown). I wanted to know what was next. Together with their mother, Frank and I have spent the last 15 years raising his two children. Now, we could see an open path to a time for just the two of us.
So, we started talking about our next chapter but no longer in a Maybe-Someday-We-Could kind of way, but in a What-Do-We-Do-NOW kind of way. In a swirl of giddy enthusiasm, we bought a townhouse with the intention of renting it but almost immediately decided that we should move into it ourselves. As soon as possible. No more mowing or weeding or cleaning out gutters. More freedom, less responsibility, more travel, more ease. Our hearts soared at the idea.
The whirl continued as we talked to our realtor about pricing and listing our house. We cleared shelves and closets to make it more “showing ready.” In the midst of this, we realized we had to wash the windows. They are big and high, so it is no small task. Which probably explains why we’d never done it in all the time we’ve lived here. Dust and dirt and smashed stink bugs and cat nose prints and bird droppings were all part of our vista. But now, Frank hauled out the walk board and his special Norwegian window washing rag and went to work.
When I walked into the kitchen that evening, it was like walking to the edge of a tree house. Through the sparkling windows, I could see everything clearly. Our garden, the chicken coop, the woods beyond. As the sun set, the trees glowed green. The sky and late-day clouds radiated white, gray, blue and pink-rose. We watched the airspace transition from bird traffic to bat. It was glorious. Beautiful. This was why we’d designed the house this way – to be able to see, enjoy, absorb the wild natural beauty in our back yard. I’d somehow forgotten our original vision of living in this place. I’d gotten distracted by the grime and cat nose prints.
At dinner the next night, our boy stopped eating for a moment, looked out the windows at the view and said, “That makes me happy.” Well and truly said.
In some ways, it really was as simple as that: we thought we had to move but really we just had to wash our windows. At the risk of sounding like Dorothy in the last scene of The Wizard of Oz (something that would delight Frank no end), sometimes what I really need is to look with different eyes at what is right in front of me. Am I seeing through a film of dirt and bird poop? Am I seeing only what I want to see and editing out the rest? Am I oblivious, eyes down, not seeing at all? Am I seeing how flipping amazing the world is? Do I need to wash my windows?
How do you use your eyes: your physical eyes, yes, and also your eyes as they connect to your mind, heart, and imagination? What is your vision of the world, your life, this moment? I’d love to hear your eye perspectives.