Sunday, December 26, 2010

What would life be like without windows?

All right. One of these days I actually will run a photograph of something other than the view from my front window, but -- in the meanwhile -- here it is once again as an illustration of life as it has been around this neck of the woods for the past few weeks. Life = snow plus snow and more snow. Those hints of red showing toward the middle, lower portion of the photo reveal an automobile which has been parked in the same location for several days. Do you suppose someone is inside it? Probably not. By the way, that is the Sun and not the Moon peering down through the trees at me.

Let me go to the window

I know a doctor who believes everyone needs a window to the outside world no matter where he lives or where he works. I mean a literal window. Although the doctor is a surgeon rather than a psychiatrist, he is offering this opinion from a psychological point of view.

To demonstrate the depth of feeling behind his statement, upon moving into a newly-constructed clinic building and assigned to an office without a window, he paid with his own money to have a hole knocked in the outer brick wall and to have a window installed where there had been only solid mass before.

"I need to see the sky and the rain and the grass to keep from going crazy," he told me.

His viewpoint is not particularly unique. Where do you think the term "cabin fever" or, more appropriate yet, "stir crazy" originated? True, those concepts have to do with a bit more than a windowless room, but they are treading down the same roadway.

The townhouse in which I lived last summer was pretty much identical to the one I am in now except for the view provided from the window. Last summer, from the front window, I saw only another row of townhouses a few yards away across a narrow street.

Now, compare that to the window in this townhouse. While not offering a look at the most picturesque landscape imaginable, it reveals a glimpse of river bottomland filled with trees which is typical of the southern Minnesota countryside and provides occasional sightings of a variety of wildlife.

Like my doctor friend, I agree than any window is better than no window, but I would argue that the real value for having one to look through rests upon what is to be seen beyond the glass and in its value/meaning to the beholder.

To serve a real purpose, I believe that a window must offer a vision which not only draws the person toward it -- no matter if it is drawing one outside or inside -- but into it, and even beyond it, to who knows where.

Perhaps, now would be a good time to renew a friendship with Alice, to discover if the window really is a window or, actually, is a mirror and, possibly, to follow her "Through the Looking-Glass."

At a Window
by Carl Sandburg

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.


Natalie said...

What made you pick the subject for your post, Fram?
Unfortunately, too many offices in NYC have no windows to the outside world – how could one be creative / productive in a window-less, airless box?? even staying positive is a challenge!
But the poem you posted is ….murderess…., very depressing… “Shut me out with shame and failure”

Fram Actual said...

I received a Christmas card from the doctor, which started me thinking about him, Natalie. He is a genuine character in many ways.

Then, too, windows and mirrors always have interested me in terms of how they might affect an individual's perspective of himself or of others or of his immediate surroundings. They are magical elements in life, I think.

And the poem .... all right .... Carl Sandburg was a Chicago poet, a socialist, had been in the army, had been a reporter, had been a hired hand on a farm and worked at other menial jobs, and much of his poetry reflected the down-trodden and the harsher elements of life.

I guess I do not see this particular poem quiet as rough as you do, Natalie. After all, Sandburg is saying he can handle anything the world throws at him if only he knows he will have a voice to speak to him, a hand to touch him and a "little love" at the end of the day. Sort of sweet, in a way.

It is nice to see you out and about again.

Kaya said...

Fram, you take excellent photos of nature. The trees are bare and lonesome. Sad...

I am not sure I understood correctly but I enlarged your photo and tried to find out was it really a car hidden under snow or not? Ok, I decided it was a car left for a few days in the snowstorm.... Where is the owner????

I like your doctor who believes that everybody needs a window to the outside world. You made me think about this window and right now I am wondering is belonging to something as blog's world is a window to the world outside? I think, yes. Anyway, I like the "opened" windows more than "closed" doors.

I love the poem At the Window. "Give me hunger, pain and want " in order to feel and have a little love. That is not bad. But I don't want to be "shut with shame and failure...". I prefer to go to the window and rediscover little love again. I like this poet and I never heard about him.

And Sarah Brightman is wonderful. Great voice and great song. Love this video!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I hear and understand your point about the Sandburg’s poem… what I found depressing is that he has nothing to hope for…. only an expectation of love…. which may never come….

Fram Actual said...

I join with the bare and lonesome trees to thank you for noticing them, Kaya.

Yes, there is an automobile beneath the snow. I suspect the owner is a student at the university here who has gone home for the holidays.

Oh, yes, the sea of blogs is both a window and a doorway and, I suppose, also a mirror in some respects. For instance, there is no reason to believe that I ever would have traveled to Poland were it not for the blogs. Just as surely as schools, jobs and the military provide avenues for learning and traveling and meeting people, so do the blogs. The blogs can be a useful tool to living; the only risk is that for some, they become a substitute for living.

Carl Sandburg was one of the most influential American poets of the Twentieth Century. I am not a particular fan of his work, but his poems are worth examining and he wrote a biography of Abraham Lincoln which was considered a primary source during its era.

Sarah remains one of my favorites, but I prefer her "old voice" and her "old look" to the Sarah of today.

Fram Actual said...

I understand your point of view, Anonymous Nat.

This is simply the typical Carl Sandburg. He is a realist, a working-class man, a reporter. He hopes for the best, but expects the worst.

We each see what we see in a poem, and if we have studied the poet's life as well as his work, it opens more windows to his psyche.

I would not read him often.

Something special ....