Through The Glass, Darkly

cottagewAlice

The looking glass was Alice’s doorway to a brand, new world – Wonderland.  But I think a picture window might be a better metaphor for real life.  How we see things depends on whether we are inside looking out, or outside peering in.

An old friend of my husband’s called the other day.  The two met when they were 18 years old and they are still friends, though distance and circumstances dictate that they only talk a couple of times a year.  Bill wasn’t home so Doug and I chatted for a little while.

I don’t really know Doug that well.  The only time we met was when he came to visit when our kids were preteens, about 13 years ago.   He was supposed to stay with us for only a couple of days, but the visit stretched into a week.  Doug seemed like a nice guy, but my most vivid impression was how awkward it is to have a virtual stranger in your home for that long, especially since we had to leave him alone most of the time because of school and work commitments.   I developed a new appreciation for the old saying, “fish and company begin to stink after 3 days.”

I know that Doug is about 60 years old, has no children and is estranged from his family. He tried marriage twice, but it didn’t take. He has some health problems, vaguely alluded to, but I don’t know the particulars.

When he called,  Doug told me he had been dating a woman for a while and he thought things were going well between them.  Then she told him, out of the blue, that she didn’t want to see him anymore. She didn’t give an explanation.  He seemed bewildered and wounded by the sudden turn of events.

He said, “I often think about that time I came to visit, and I wonder if Bill knows how lucky he is.”

People say things like that all the time – it’s such a cliché it’s practically meaningless.  But not for Doug.  It seemed that he had really thought about it.

He went on, “Bill has two great children, a lovely home, and he has you to come home to every night. You have each other. That’s what I thought my life would be like.”

Then Doug said something that blew me away; “Bill got the life I always wanted.”

I was speechless.  How do you respond to something like that?

  • It ain’t always so great from this angle.
  • Bill might not agree with you.
  • It’s so very sad that your life hasn’t worked out like you expected.
  • You’re right; we’ve both been incredibly blessed.

Each of these responses is true, yet none is true; not by itself.

You’ve got to be careful when you press your nose up against the window of someone else’s life. A wave in the glass can distort your vision, or the light may shine in such a way as to trick your eyes.  What you take to be an inside view might be the outside reflecting off your own hopes, dreams, fears and experiences.

You can never be sure that what you THINK you see is really there.

On the other hand, sometimes you can be concentrating so hard on the dim, small interiors of your everyday world that you miss the big picture.  You develop a “can’t see the forest for the trees” sort of mindset.   It’s good to step out into the bright light now and then and change places with someone who sees things from a different vantage point.

When your life looks rather dull and flat to you, you might gain a fresh, new perspective by looking at it from the other side of the glass.

 

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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45 Responses to Through The Glass, Darkly

  1. Elyse says:

    Such a great reminder, Peg! And a nice way to start my day.

    Like

  2. Al says:

    Dang, Peg, not a laugh to be seen, but what a powerful introspection. Every word on this page is dead on. We often dwell on the difficulties and tribulations of our marriages at the expense of basking in the blessing of having a loving and caring mate. A great new take on “the grass is always greener.”
    Thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. lexy3587 says:

    Very true. Sometimes it’s hard to remember how lucky you are when things aren’t going exactly as you planned them to be.

    Like

  4. Well said, Peg. We don’t know the burdens others carry. There are a lot of lonely people in the world, of all ages. Thanks for reminding me to be thankful for my family and friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      I think about that when I look at the pictures of stars on the covers of tabloids at the checkout counter. We don’t know what their lives are REALLY like. Although I guess we can assume that the addition of lots of money isn’t a bad thing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • franhunne4u says:

        I’d even question that. Money is a lot of responsibility, if you need to keep your family afloat – or have staff to pay (not in the house, in a company!). And you can always ruin your own life (health, sanity, spoiling yourself, your SO, your children) with it very, very efficiently. Yes, having not enough money to know where the rent comes from, how to make ends meet or to repair or replace broken things sucks – but havong money and being tempted to drink too much, to use drugs, to gamble – there are so many temptations open to you when you have money. It is not that easy …

        Liked by 1 person

        • pegoleg says:

          I think you’re probably right. I think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – if you don’t have enough money to eat, everything else is relatively unimportant. Once we have our basic needs met, it frees up energy to fret about other things.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s why I don’t tell the truth when someone asks: How are you? I reckon they will be running the other way if I tell them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You speak the truth, sistah. I try to make a point of appreciating the simple things I have in my life, my kids, my husband, my health. I’ve had long stretches in my own life when I was lonely and never thought I’d have a family. I was even jealous of others who seemed to have it all. I firmly believe that loneliness is the worst emotion, it weighs heavy on your heart and colors your whole world. But my loneliness taught me to appreciate every connection I made with people in my life. But just because I have a family now, doesn’t mean my life is hunky dory all the time. Far from it. I suppose we all go through our own personal struggles at some point in our lives. Just appreciate what you have and don’t dwell on what you don’t have. I don’t know what I’m trying to say here and sorry for the ramble, I need more coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      I think you’re spot-on about loneliness. One of my sisters has a friend who isn’t really someone whose company she enjoys, but she calls her and goes to see her because the poor woman is just so, damn lonely that it tugs at my sister’s heart. I’m afraid I’m not that kind- hearted.

      Ramble on, little rambler – you always make good sense. And I just poured another cup of coffee in your honor.

      Liked by 1 person

    • franhunne4u says:

      Your kids are simple things? Well, if you say so …

      Like

  7. Blogdramedy says:

    I’d go outside and look in my own window but my vision is blurred and I don’t think it’s the cold.

    Nice post, Peg.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Cutter says:

    I think social media hasn’t helped this. Everyone’s life looks shiny and wonderful when viewed through an Instagram filter

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Carrie Rubin says:

    The whole grass is greener thing. But how sad he feels he’s missed out on so much. I suppose it’s never too late to get back in the game and seek what you want. Hopefully he’ll be able to.

    Nice thoughtful post, Peg.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I don’t know if he will be able to. You’re right that it’s never too late, but we are who we are. Some people have the unfortunate tendency to repel at the same time they are eager to attract. Sad but true.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Lynn says:

    “You’ve got to be careful when you press your nose up against the window of someone else’s life.” Truer words could not be spoken Peg! I am so grateful for my family & my circle of friends, I can’t imagine my life without them. That is not to say my life is perfect or always completely in harmony. There are days when I would gladly trade places with someone else. We all have to seek our own path, learning from the challenges we face & determining our own happiness. I hope for Doug, he finds his.

    Like

  11. Sooooo true. However open and genuine people are, they present their lives in a certain way to others, and we never really know what goes on behind closed doors, or how they might really be feeling a lot of the time. My kids, like most kids, will often complain that I don’t let them do something that a friend is allowed to do, or refused to buy them something that another friend has etc, and I always point out to them that no one parent does everything they like, they cherry pick the best bits from all their friends’ parents and expect me to be all those things. I think we can all have that tendency to look at the bits we wish we had in other people’s lives and thinking that means they have a better life overall.

    Like

  12. I don’t think that ANY of us get the life we expected. I had a vision of success when I was younger and it didn’t include climbing on a 5:20 a.m. bus every morning. Having said that, some of us get closer to that ideal than others. You have to adapt to the disappointments, but you need some lucky breaks along the way. When I start to feel cheated or like life’s been unkind, I visit the Atlantic City casinos for the day. It turns out I’m doing just FINE.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Is that because you see so many pathetic people betting their rent money on a dream of fortune that will never come true? Or because you always win at the casinos?

      Like

      • Sadly, I use the down and out—the ones betting the aforementioned rent—to lift me out of my malaise. There but for the grace, etc. I don’t always win. But I win sometimes. Enough to keep returning. I wonder if anyone looks at me from a distance with pity?

        Like

  13. amelie88 says:

    What a good reminder to stop comparing myself to others and what they are doing with their lives. My life may not have turned out the way I planned–so many things have happened that I never ever expected. But I’m sure this Doug friend of your husband’s has had some good moments in his life, he just spent too much time focusing on what he didn’t have. This is what I need to remember to do too. Thanks!

    Like

  14. Sandy Sue says:

    I love this post, Peg, as I’ve been on both sides of the glass. It’s always a waste to focus so intently on what you *think* will make you happy that you miss all the other opportunities that might take your life in a completely different–and happy–direction. I’ve known folks like Doug who *want* so badly that the grasping and clutching chase away what they hope to catch.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      My mom told me about a friend of hers who, when she was first married, would never buy curtains or do anything to fix up their first home because she thought it was a dump. She expected her husband to quickly make more money so they could move. By this kind of attitude, she missed out on much of the happiness of “now” because all she could see was the magical, mythical “some day.”

      That story has really stuck with me over the years.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Little Voice says:

    Gosh Peg, how insightful. I was thinking about growing up during my teen years in a house that had a huge picture window in the living room providing a view to the outside world. We lived on a busy street so we could watch lots of traffic going back and forth, and I often wondered where folks were going and what their lives were like. Maybe it was my age, but I didn’t think about how my life compared. I just watched wondering if they would reach their destinations.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I still like to do that. When we lived in town I used to prefer to take a walk in the darkening evening as opposed to daytime, because with the light shining out, I could peer into people’s living rooms as I passed by. I constructed whole lives for them in my head.

      Like

  16. What a wonderful reminder Peg. Things are not always what they seem from the outside, but they are often better than they appear from the inside. I think we all need to remember. Thank you

    Like

  17. As I grow older, I realize many things are not what they seem. That can go for the “perfect” people in life as well. Everyone struggles in their own way.

    Like

  18. Maybe he had the hots for you, Peg? 😉

    Like

  19. Pingback: Through The Glass, Darkly | HunterGame1216

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