I’m sure that, like me, most of you are dealing with a roller coaster of emotions these days, your mood rising and falling as the positive stories of progress in developing a vaccine for the coronavirus contrast with increasing numbers of cases and deaths. I won’t even get into the long list of other concerning subjects that compete for our attention and keep us up at night. Needless to say, we’re all in need of some light and hope, and I’m going to share with you a source of daily uplift for me, one that features the added bonus of allowing me to (vicariously) travel around the world and drink in some beautiful sights.
A few months ago my sister Ann invited me to join a Facebook group. I’m not much of a joiner to begin with, and at a time when I didn’t feel like taking on one more new thing, I just let the invite sit there, but I did start to look at the posts on the page. The group was titled “What do you see from your window?”, and before very long I started looking forward to the posts. Each contained at least one picture from a member with a description of what they saw outside their window during the pandemic stay-at-home period. Sometimes there was just a brief description of the view and where it was, but sometimes there was a much longer narrative providing a window into that person’s situation. Some wrote of how they were adapting to their new reality; others wrote of the loss of loved ones — whether to the virus or otherwise.
In the responses from other members below each post, I quickly realized that this was no ordinary Facebook group, where “discussions” can quickly devolve into finger pointing, name calling and judgment. Here, instead, were warm expressions of support, empathy and affirmation. What’s more, posts and responses came from all over the Earth: Ireland, Pakistan, Australia, Armenia, China, Malaysia, Israel, U.A.E., Cyprus and French Polynesia. This I could happily join, and did.
I’ve since learned the group was started by Arik Zara, an Israeli-born lawyer, guide and online marketer living in Lisbon, Portugal. He launched the group on March 21 of this year, and as some countries started to open up, in May he added #Stay Safe and #Opening Up to the group’s name. There aren’t many rules: Treat everyone with respect, kindness is required, no politics or hashtags or links, refrain from controversies and arguments. Photos may include pets, animals and humans, but members are encouraged to focus on the views outside their windows.
Over the past few months I’ve enjoyed sunsets from Italy, mountain views from Pakistan, lush gardens from England and cityscapes from China. Over 165 countries are represented by more than 500,000 members, and they provide some really stunning photographs and tidbits of information about their local flora and fauna and the history and geology of their homes. As travel has opened up somewhat, some posts include pictures from plane windows and views of sunny beaches and mountain lakes. Responses to these posts express appreciation for being able to see the world in this way and for the sense of community the group has developed.
Creator/moderator Arik Zara sums up what, for me, this page provides. “The experience of seeing these pictures from all over the world makes us realize how beautiful our earth is and how much we all share as human beings.” In sharing what members see from their windows, “We are providing personal windows to our worlds and to our hearts.” Amidst all the sorrow and negativity that can overwhelm us right now — and the restrictions on travel — What Do You See from Your Window? provides a bright ray of sunshine and hope.
— Patty Vanikiotis, associate editor/copy editor
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