Several years ago I came across this quote attributed to Wallace Stevens and it resonated deeply:
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between thinking and looking out the window.
As I neared the end of my undergraduate years I was well known in my friend circles for always choosing a classroom seat by the window. To this day I dislike auditoriums without them.
While much of my window thinking back then had more to do with unfocused boredom, it is interesting to note how the impulse to look out a window morphed into my lifeline as I lay on a couch 11 years later and watched bright yellow goldfinches flock to the feeders. A car accident and resulting brain injury spun my interior life into a frantic fight for survival and identity and I will never forget those days spent watching the brilliant yellow birds through the window.
It’s no secret that huge windows have been grace in my transition to Alaska. How often I’ve looked up and out to have my breath literally taken away in awe-filled response to a view of the mountainscape or the light or sometimes even a big bull moose. How many times I’ve stood looking out at the Cook Inlet with mountains beyond mountains in the distance and known for sure that this moment, this place is a gift. And yet sometimes in those very same moments I’ve choked with tears. In the depth of my soul I grieve the loss and sacrifices this moment, this place require of me.
It’s simply not always easy to tell the difference between thinking and looking out the window.