The art of a window is that it is both useful for living and metaphorical for life.
A consistent complaint that my husband, born and raised in England, has about his homeland is window-gazing. His claim is that the English spend an inordinate amount of time standing at and staring out of windows. If Jane Austen and E. M. Forster have taught us anything about the English character through their heroines, it’s that window-gazing is a sort of national pastime, like baseball.
Strolling through a tiny village in Suffolk last month, I had further evidence. I did witness at least five sets of eyes peeking out of their windows as if to assess the intentions and rhythms of me, a stranger and wanderer.
But what, if anything, is wrong with a healthy dose of window-gazing? We look to windows not just to spy on our surroundings and passersby. We look to and out of them for inspiration, color, insight – an appetizer of the world when the main course is solitude.
In the spirit of our staircases worth pondering, here are ten windows into the souls of beloved thinkers, writers, artists, musicians and more.
“Being a good songwriter means paying attention and sticking your hand out the window to catch the song on the way to someone else’s house!”
– Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter, Nanci Griffith
“A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”
– Poet, essayist and journalist, Walt Whitman
“A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.”
– Author and motivational lecturer, Denis Waitley
“A window of opportunity for me usually involves a rock.”
– Comedian, Jay London
“An actor entering through the door, you’ve got nothing. But if he enters through the window, you’ve got a situation. ”
– Academy Award winning filmmaker, Billy Wilder
“Art is the window to man’s soul. Without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world; nor could the world see the man within.”
– Former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson
“I feel that it is healthier to look out at the world through a window than through a mirror. Otherwise, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you.”
– Singer, Bill Withers
“I look out the window sometimes to seek the color of the shadows and the different greens in the trees, but when I get ready to paint I just close my eyes and imagine a scene.”
– American folk artist, Grandma Moses
“I used to go and flatten my nose against that window and absorb all I could of his art. It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it. ”
– Painter, Mary Cassatt
“It was morning; through the high window I saw the pure, bright blue of the sky as it hovered cheerfully over the long roofs of the neighboring houses. It too seemed full of joy, as if it had special plans, and had put on its finest clothes for the occasion. ”
– Poet and novelist, Herman Hesse