The Golden Windows
"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Ruth impatiently, as she straightened the book shelves. "I do wish we could have a new carpet this spring. I never liked this at all, and now it is so faded and worn it is simply dreadful. It makes me miserable every time I look at it."
"Then, since you say you cannot very well have a new one just now, why do you look at it?" asked Aunt Rachel, smiling. "There are a great many unpleasant things in our lives—we find them every day—some of which we are unable to prevent. If we persist in thinking of them and keep fretting about them, we make ourselves and everybody about us miserable.
"It seems to me we might all learn a lesson from the bees. I have read that when anything objectionable, that they are unable to remove, gets into a hive, they set to work immediately to cover it all over with wax. They just shut it up in an airtight cell, and then forget all about it. Is not that a wise way for us to manage our aggravations?
"Someone sent me a postcard the other day with this motto: ‘The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one has to do.’ It is not in having and doing just as we like, but in being determined to make the best of the inevitable. When you find an unpleasant thing in your life that cannot be removed, find a way to deal with it and then forget it.
"And then I think that many times it helps to get a different view of things. You remember the story of the golden windows, do you not? A little boy who had very few pretty things in his own home because his parents were poor, often stood in his own doorway at sunset time and looked longingly at the big house at the top of the opposite hill. Such a wonderful house it was! Its windows were all of gold, which shone so bright that it often made his eyes blink to look at them. ‘If only our house was as beautiful,’ he would say. ‘I would not mind wearing patched clothes and having only bread and milk for supper.’
"One afternoon his father told him he might do just as he pleased, so he climbed the hill from his house and up the other long hill. He was going to see the golden windows. But when he reached the top of the other hill he stopped in dismay; his lips began to quiver, his eyes filled with tears. There were no golden windows there—nothing but plain, common windows like his own. ‘I thought you had beautiful golden windows in your house,’ he said to the little girl in the yard.
"Oh, no!’ she said, ‘our windows are not worth looking at, but stand beside me and you will see a lovely house with truly golden windows. See?’
"The little boy looked. ‘Why, that is my house,’ he exclaimed, ‘and I never knew we had golden windows!’
"You see, much depends on your point of view. I have lived to be an old woman, Ruth, and I have come to feel that the most heroic lives are lived by those who put their own troubles out of sight, and strive by every means in their power to ease the burden of others, who leave always behind them the influence of a cheery, loving, thankful spirit."