The journalist Sydney Harris said, “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”
Instead of everything reflecting back on us, we learn over time that the world is relevant beyond us — the way we as children we learn our parents have lives that have nothing to do with being Mom and Dad. This moment, when we catch a glimpse of the bigger circle (and realize we’re not at its center) is often startling.
Sometimes we retreat when we see it and get stuck in a place where we feel betrayed by the world — clinging fearfully to those “glory days” when we were at the center of everything and feeling like the world has gone to hell around us. This is the response to the fear of losing ourselves completely. There is a false belief that if we’re not at the center of everything then we’re out of the picture completely.
But the beauty of windows is that they’re not only for looking through; they also reflect. We can see ourselves there in the right light. But this image, unlike that in a mirror, is transparent. When we turn our mirrors into windows, we don’t lose ourselves after all. We just learn to see ourselves and the world simultaneously, and it’s this kind of seeing, rather than the either/or kind, that tells us the bigger truth about ourselves and the world. This is wholistic seeing.