A Vista For All

I can see through my window that it’s going to be a beautiful day today. I am not one of those people for whom nice weather is a distraction. The only real distraction I have ever known is me thinking something lousy about myself or my work. That is like trying to watch your favorite movie while someone screams in your ear, “WHY ARE YOU WATCHING SUCH A TERRIBLE MOVIE?” I knew a young man once who, when I mentioned that I was writing a novel, told me that he too would like to be a writer if only he could have a good vista. “A vista?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. He needed a good vista to be able write. If he had a vista, the writing would flow.

“Guess you’ll never write,” I thought. But I was less compassionate in those days. This fellow was not particularly happy, I don’t think. Like me, he was working as a waiter but wished to do other things. He was also a devoted smoker and had an entire routine worked out involving sucking on a lemon after each cigarette so his breath wouldn’t stink tableside. I can still see him hunched over a sink, sucking furiously on another lemon before dashing off to his waiting guests.

I don’t think it was a vista he wanted. I think it was peace of mind. He couldn’t write, he knew, unless whatever drove him to suck on those lemons quieted long enough so he could actually hear and see what it is he wished to say. And that is, indeed, what everyone needs to write. I’ve always felt God speaks in silence, and not that that I am transcribing, mind you, but I am listening, and the last thing I need is a lot of miserable chatter in my head cluttering up the process.

So here’s to that unhappy waiter’s vista. I hope he found it, whether he ever writes a word or not. Let everyone find a lovely vista. Everything is perspective, after all, and what you see depends entirely on what you believe.

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