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Discovery of Happiness
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―The View from the Window‖
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospita l room. One man was
allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help dra in the fluid from his
lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his
time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and
families, the ir homes, the ir jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had
been on vacation.
Every afternoon when the patient in the bed by the window could sit up, he
would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the
window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his
world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world
The patient in the bed next to the window described that it overlooked a park
with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed the ir
mode l boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine
view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window
described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close
his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the
patient by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the
life less body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was
saddened and called the hospita l attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next
to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was
comfortable , she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow
to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the
window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.