When I sit at my breakfast bar in the second chair I can look out two windows. The eastward window doesn’t reveal much, as I mostly see the back of a home, a car and a dumpster. The northward window, though, that is the window to the dancing lights.
When I look out the north window I see the field behind my parents house, freshly covered with snow. It rolls on for several acres, enclosed on every side by a wall of beautiful snow covered evergreens. I see the opportunities to play, to build, to sled, to laugh. I see the glimpses of diamonds when the sun hits the snow just right and feel the moment when my breath exhales inadvertently at the sight. I hear the thuds as the snow falls from the tree branches and the thumps as my golden retriever wags her tail impatiently, begging to go catch the falling snow in her greying face.
None of those things are really there when I look out my north window. There are no large trees, no children playing, and my golden retriever died over a decade ago. The lot behind my house is only a few hundred feet wide and does not have evergreens anywhere. It’s enclosed by a fence and a concrete building. At this time of year, the sun barely shows up and is gone in mere hours when it does. Reality is far, very far, from what I see.
Evelyn Underhill asks
What is it, then, which distinguishes the outlook of great poets and artists from the arrogant subjectivism of common sense? Innocence and humility distinguish it, these persons prejudge nothing, criticise nothing. To some extent, their attitude to the universe is that of children: and because this is so, they participate to that extent in the Heaven of Reality.
What a beautiful understanding of the mystic, of the artist, of the dreamer. As I am learning more and more about narratives and stories in our lives I am finding that arrogance and raw pragmatism are the biggest challenges that present me from truly entering into a communal friendship. So often I am hit with that feeling of pragmatic rejection, of frustration over decisions that just don’t compute with me. Perhaps it is the downfall for the technologist, when stories and software face off against each other.
It is in this realization that I am drawn back to the innocence of things. Some incredible people have come into my life and are capable of seeing the beauty and the awe and wonder in the little things around them. A baby chirping in church. The way a fresh book feels in your hands. The aroma of a freshly poured glass of wine or a warm loaf of bread as it comes out of the oven. Feelings. Senses. Being alive.
I was almost too pragmatic to miss it, but then I looked out the north window and saw the diamonds sparkle. And I felt alive all over again.