There is a rumor there are only two things that are certain in life. Death and taxes. Actually we’d present two others for your consideration.
Always know that just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that it does not exist.
Never underestimate the power of encouragement.
We all have our imaginations and we also do well to celebrate certain occasions – birthdays, graduations, weddings, retirement – and encourage continued growth, happiness, or good luck. Can we merge the two? Indeed we can and we should, for in this life that has so few breaks, sometimes you need a good imagination just to encourage yourself to keep going!
One of our favorite stories of encouragement is the tale of the two men sharing a room in a nursing home. Call them Bill and Phil.
Bill and Phil shared a room and much more. There both were quite infirmed, extremely limited in movement, restricted not just to their room but to their beds. They had no family and no visitors came. Their only distractions were their own conversations. Bill was assigned the bed nearer the door. He could not move from a supine position and had been on his back for as long as anyone remembered. Phil, next to the window, was allowed to sit up in bed for one hour every day. The other 23 hours he also stayed flat in his back.
One afternoon some years ago, as Phil was raised to his sitting position, his roommate Bill, anxious for a view of anything but the ceiling above, asked him what he saw, and thus began a tradition that continued for many years. Each day, Phil, in his raised position, described scenes from the outside world – the blossoms in the spring, the bright colors of summer, the falling leaves in autumn, the crisp snow of the winters. He told of children playing, animals scurrying, young lovers holding hands taking in all that is around them. Whatever the season, whatever the weather, there was always something special happening outside that window. During those sixty minutes, Bill struggled in bed, tensing and releasing his muscles, building his strength little by imperceptibly little, working toward the day when he would be strong enough to lift himself, and join his friend looking out on the world.
One morning, the aide came in to wake the gentlemen and discovered Phil had passed away during the night. She expressed her sympathies to Bill on the loss of his friend. After a while Bill asks if he might be moved next to the window. The nursing staff made the necessary arrangements and moved him. There, struggling, slowly, painfully yet as carefully as possible, he lifted himself by the smallest of increments until finally he managed a glimpse of the scene outside the window. And there he saw nothing but the blank wall of the building next door.
Dejected he asks the nurse when she came in why his friend Phil would have deceived him all these years, telling him of such beauty outside when there is nothing to see but a brick wall. The nurse, confused about this replied, “He couldn’t have seen anything at all. Phil was blind you know.”
And then it became clear. Bill asked his friend what he saw, not what was outside the window, and what Phil saw was the beauty of the world - and something more. Each day Phil described the scene he saw in his mind. He also sensed that Bill was driven to work to lift himself so one day he would be able to see the world Phil was painting with his words.
In time a new patient was assigned to the room. Bill’s new roommate was placed by the door in the position Bill himself so long had been. His new roommate said, “Hi, I hope you don’t mind a talker for a roommate. I have no family and all I can do is lie here and look at the ceiling. Hey, since you are by the window, would you mind telling me what you can see?”
We can learn two things from Phil and Bill. Always know that just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that it does not exist, and never underestimate the power of encouragement. The blind roommate Phil was able to create a world of beauty knowing somewhere out there was the world he saw, even if not the one right in front of him. Bill, his bed-bound roommate, found a reason to improve his position through Phil’s world of words. And Phil knew his words were the encouragement Bill needed to work hard enough to affect that change.
What we are doing today is partly because of the encouragement and guidance of those who came before us - our parents, teachers, mentors. Similarly, the generations following us are built on the information we share with them, often including the “what could be” along with the “what is.”
Where will your visions of today fit into the world of tomorrow and what words will you say to encourage those following you to believe in that world?
Open the indow of encouragement – revisited, first published as Encouraging each other
First published 20 October 2021, Gently edited for length and for content
ROAMcare Revisited is a look back at some of our more memorable posts. Please join us on our look back as we strive to find a clearer path forward.