Company was coming. As I rushed about tidying up, I noticed that the large, picture window in the dining room was spotted and filthy. Actually, I’d known that for several months but was used to seeing through the smudges when I looked out into the garden. After half a bottle of Windex, I was amazed at the difference. The sky was bluer and I could even see the edges of the red and yellow flowers with clarity. How had I grown used to peering through all that grunge?
It reminded me of the two famous suicides in the news this week. A man and woman, both in their 50’s, both parents and hugely accomplished, killed themselves. Their closest friends didn’t see it coming. I imagine that the windows in their minds were caked with grime and obfuscated with smudges. Their horizons were so muted and obscured that only the tiniest bits of light shown. Without light there is no hope.
As ‘free’ as we like to think we are, we are only as liberated as our thoughts. It is easy to pull the trigger of a gun but much harder to understand what put our finger on it in the first place. Our lives are as full and rich as the garden through my window but sometimes we can’t even see the flowers. We get fixated on a single weed or notice only that a brick is crumbling or the rocks have fallen onto the path.
Here’s the rub: no one is inside our head but us. If we want a clear view, we must erase the clutter, the negative thoughts that cloud it and dwell fully on the beauty before our eyes. Perhaps it is merely flowers, but it may also be children who still need our nurture, a partner we’ve come to take for granted or even a cause that we could champion.
Recently, I read that one day, we will actually be able to diagnose all of our ills from simply analyzing the sound of our own voices. It will even be able to detect both depression and Alzheimer’s. That’s all very nice but knowledge is irrelevant if we can’t make full use of it and our thinking is clouded. What we really need is clarity; a clean window. Otherwise, it is all just a sad and silent shadow box, little more than a handbag or bowl of Thai noodles.