What Do You See When You Look Out The Window?

What do you see when you look out the window?

I thought everyone sees what I see. Until one day, I asked, and learned otherwise.

When I would visit my husband at his university office for the occasional lunch, I was struck by the collection of geometric building roof shapes I saw outside his high rise window.  I took in the reflection of the sun across slanted roofs and spires with sloping triangles joined by rectangular tops. 

The world to me has always been a collection of shapes and orderly sequences. In fourth grade, I became curious about the increasing complexity of the standardized math test. The order of it all, the progression to more involved think pieces was a wonder to me in their construction.

When I entered the Girl Scouts at eight years old, I was fasciated by the checkerboard sweater pattern of the scout leader. It was an alternating square pattern of knit followed by a square block of purl. As her back was turned to me as she spoke to the other girls, I remember counting stitches and number of rows of her sweater. There was something about the pattern and balance that was calming. That weekend I went to the yarn story and proceeded to create this alternating pattern of my own. The pattern I created turned out beautiful through the sweater shape was less than elegantly formed – especially without a pattern I could follow.

Thinking back to high school trigonometry class, I recall the sense of calm by being surrounded by logical lines and shapes and formulae. None of this fascination with math or logic puzzles ever went beyond the task at hand. I took one math class in college and that was to fulfill a requirement. To me, the world presented itself in shapes, patterns and balance. It just was that way.

So, when I randomly asked my husband “what do you see when you look out the window at these buildings,” expecting to hear his version of what I see, I was not prepared for this reply.

He said: “I think about who was President when these buildings went up.”

“But don’t you see all the shapes?” I asked.

“Yes, but what’s more interesting to me” he replied “is what was going in history at that time. What were people doing and thinking and wearing during those years when these buildings were built.”  

It was then, I thought, just because I see something doesn’t mean it is what everyone else sees. Perspective of what one sees is more than light recognizing the forms before us.

What do you see when you look out the window?

Do you think of days gone by?

Do you see the future unfolding?

Or do you see shapes? Or, something else?

To me, the world is a collection of puzzle pieces that float through my mind’s eyes looking for their interlocking matching shape that completes their form, their thought, their purpose.

What do you see?

I’m curious to know.