I found one of my best teachers on the boardwalk at Coney Island maybe 15 years ago. It was December and I was doing a story about how the homeless survive in the winter months. He and I sat on the edge of the wooden supports dangling our feet over the side and he told me about his schedule. Panhandling the boulevard when the summer crowds were gone, sleeping in church when the temperature went below freezing, hiding from the police amidst the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Cyclone and some of the other seasonal rides. But he told me that most of the time he stayed on the boardwalk facing the water just the way we were sitting now even when it got cold and he had to wear his newspapers after he read them. I asked him why. Why didn't he go to one of the shelters? Why didn't he check himself into the hospital for detox? He just stared out at the ocean and said, "Look at the view, young lady. Look at the view." Every day since, in some little way, I try to do what he said. I try to look at the view. That's the last thing I have to tell you today. Words of wisdom from a man with not a dime in his pocket, no place to go, and nowhere to be. Look at the view. You'll never be disappointed.
I must concur with Mrs. Quindlen, the view is always staggering. Sometimes it’s staggeringly beautiful and other times it ranges to the other extreme, but it is always staggering. I’ve found the devil specializes in altering the view of God’s people. We can have blessings upon blessings around us, but we may be led to look at what is wrong or failing. We may be at church and only see who’s not there and miss all those who gave the effort to actually be there with us. We may be at our job and only see the cliques or the politics and fail to see the blessing of just having a job. We may be at home and agonize over little tasks that aren’t done and fail to see the family that God has blessed us with. It’s way too easy to miss the forest in the trees.
This can only change with a purposeful alteration to the way we think and what we keep our eyes on. The next time you’re tempted to be negative while in the house of God, stop it and instead look around a find something or someone to be thankful for. The next time you find yourself “going to the grouch” at home, stop it and instead find a family member and do something impulsive that will make a forever memory. The next time you find yourself finding fault on your job, stop it and instead find someone who you know works as hard (or harder) than you do and let them know that you appreciate them.
Maybe we need to stop looking for faults, shortcomings, and failures and just learn to enjoy the view. Maybe what you’re looking at or the way you’re looking at it is making you blind to the all the wonderful things and people who were there all along. Grumpy Guses and Debbie Downers are a dime a dozen, but someone who can live on the bright side of life is a blessing and an encouragement. What are you choosing to look at?
Look at the view,