I’ve stared out many windows during my life and looked out on many different views.
For now, I look out on luscious green trees during Spring and Summer.
And depending on my location at a given point in time, I’ve also looked out on the downtown skyline, a swimming pool that was way too cold to get into and…a wooden fence.
When I lived along the Central Coast, I had a kitchen-window view of a mini-woods complete with fallen pine needles, mama deer and adorable fawns, a HUGE apartment complex across the way. (The illusion of being in a magical forest was often hard to maintain.)
Up in the Pacific Northwest, I at one time had a bedroom window that framed a view of Mount Rainier (on a clear day). There was also another place where the less appealing first-story view was of a busy boulevard and a rather tacky fountain that had the most annoying sound, especially when one was trying to fall asleep.
And then there are all the job windows — Los Angeles skyscrapers and freeways, old wooden Army barracks and even a pond where Canadian geese would come in for afternoon landings.
There were also a number of windowless jobs — in buildings filled with rows and rows of enclosed cubicles and grates of forced-in air that was never set to a comfortable temperature. The only “Windows” I had were the ones on the computer.
When I was growing up, the house was filled with windows. Most of them looked out on the backyard area — orange and lemon trees, hibiscus, geranium and hydrangea bushes and the old-fashioned clothesline that my mother still uses to this day. At night you could look up through the windows and see the police helicopters whirling around searching out the bad guys.
The great thing about windows, no matter the view or the sounds that come in through them (I prefer birdsong rather than enginesong, but generally, in urban areas, alas, it’s a combination of both), is how inspiring they are.
Rather than stare at a blank screen or a white piece of paper, it is much more calming to seek out the muse by gazing out a window, no matter the season, whether there is sunlight or rain, whether the window is open or closed.
And since it is often so wretched and painful to look too much within, the outside view sometimes provides a welcome respite from the inner turmoil.
It is possible to completely zone out when gazing through windows — to actually not even see whatever’s really out there at all, except for the vision of one revelatory inspiration.
Night windows are excellent also, especially when an evocative breeze or flowery scent blows through, bringing up memories of things long-buried in the soul.
Ocean breezes are the best, but even an inland breeze can sometimes evoke the memory of the mighty sea and all the walks along her shore.
Maybe windows are part of the reason that I love cats so much. There is no creature better at gazing purposelessly out a window than a feline.
Hours can go by and the cat is forever in the present moment, thrilling at whatever small movement happens to catch his eye, basking in endless days of sunlight.
Cats are expert daydreamers. And if they could hold pens in their little paws, they would no doubt write amazing stories.
The rush that humans are supposed to be in all the time to DO stuff can be rough on writers. Imagine the guilt a writer might feel because the world does not think that he or she is “doing anything.”
But gazing out windows and daydreaming are parts of a writer’s toolbox. The working mind does not need to show-off or hurry.
Paper, pencil, memory, windows — it’s as simple as that.
©August 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver