Is it all just a matter of perspective?

“For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.”  C.S. Lewis

Is it all just a matter of perspective?

In less than 8 hours after I arrived in the country we will be living in for the next 3 years, my husband and I were taken to our new villa.

As we toured our new home, we were impressed with this modern, open, well-furnished space.

Towards the end of the tour we walked past the kitchen and the half-bath, past the laundry room and the storage closet to a small room in the back of the house that is just a bit bigger than the storage closet.

IMG_0357The room has a small tinted window in the room that lets some light in but it is so high you can’t see out of it.  There is a small air conditioner, and off to the left of the room is a small watertight door.  When you open the door it reveals a tiny bathroom with a fluorescent light, a sink, a toilet and a shower wand.  (No tub, no shower curtain, and no way to keep the water from flowing through the entire bathroom if you shower.)

Yes – This tiny, claustrophobic space is intended to be the maid’s room.

Immediately I struggled wondering how I would feel if that tiny space in the back of the house with no window to look out of was mine…  Wondering how I could even consider hiring someone to live in quarters that are significantly less than what we have.

I took a few pictures and sent them to close family.  IMG_0359

I moved our dog’s travel kennel and dog food into the room and thought the shower may work well as a dog shower.  (Although the first day I took our dog in there to use it, we were both bothered by the little box we were in.)

Yesterday I visited with a friend that has lived in this country for 10 years.  She spoke of homes where the maid slept in the laundry room on a small mat so she could have air conditioning and did not have a bathroom of her own.

Which lead to a discussion about perspective.

If you have not had a roof over your head, never had a/c, if you have had to share a room that size with many other people, or had to use an outdoor biffy, or had to wash yourself from the river or with a hose from the sink these accommodations suddenly look inviting.

So today I’m considering perspective…

  •  I’m trying to imagine what it is like to have so little, that this space would be a blessing.  (There’s no doubt that it could be a blessing to someone with nothing.)
  •  I’m trying to imagine being happy living in that maid’s room.  (My mind keeps shuddering at the thought.)
  •  And I’m still questioning if I could ever feel good about providing accommodations for someone else that are so much less than what I have. 

Please share:  What situations are you in that are causing you to ponder your perspective?

 Photo credit:  iStock

 

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14 thoughts on “Is it all just a matter of perspective?

  1. Hi Chery, interesting discussion but for me the answer is very simple. I have seen places with such small space for maids in Japan but I would never consider using it for someone working for me. Maybe maids in Japan live in even smaller places, but at least they don’t have to show you and can keep their dignity. Same for food, would you give rotten fruits or not so fresh meat because people outside don’t have anything to eat ?

    • Anne, Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I agree. If all I have is very small – then offering another human being something small is no struggle. If all I have is not so fresh and that’s what I share that too, is no struggle. The struggle for me is trying to considering hiring someone to live in my home but offering them accomodations that are significantly less than what I have.

  2. Chery,

    You continue to amaze me with your ability to process your new surroundings and contemplate situations that most Americans simply will never need to confront. You are providing an immense education via your blog posts – keep up the good work!

  3. Andy Andrews in his book The Noticer talks of a fellow named Jones who always talks about perspective. Your story Sherry is a great story on perspective. One aspect of perspective is culture and context. Put your situation into the context of the culture where certain people have no rights and add to that your privilege of living in the greatest country on Earth and your perspective may change. The great thing is your heart and your concern for people of all faiths and positions. Thank you as always for sharing. JKH

    • I have to also add I’m reminded of trips I took to the outback areas of Africa and Australia where people were living in huts with dirt floors. That’s their culture that’s the context. I wish everybody could live in a fine home but to them it was a fine home. That’s perspective.

      • Hi Jeffrey,

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for your encouragement! I agree with you that I can’t compare my U.S. standard of living to the world. A home with a dirt floor is still a home. My struggle is understanding that it is culturally normal and acceptable to give your employees a place to live that is significantly less than you have. My inner two-year old keeps asking “Why?”

  4. Chery, I understand perfectly your perspective after spending two wonderful weeks in Rwanda. I viewed many people living joyfully and happily in housing conditions that we in the west would never accept including access to clean running water in their homes. Many had to walk a fair distance to get to the community well to get water. I have a totally new understanding and perspective on how fortunate I am living in Canada. I will never take for granted the “common” and expected things we have. For many people in other countries our “common” is a luxury. Enoy your new country and keep informing us.

    Regards, Claudio

  5. Chery, I understand perfectly your perspective after spending two wonderful weeks in Rwanda. I viewed many people living joyfully and happily in housing conditions that we in the west would never accept including access to clean running water in their homes. Many had to walk a fair distance to get to the community well to get water. I have a totally new understanding and perspective on how fortunate I am living in Canada. I will never take for granted the “common” and expected things we have. For many people in other countries our “common” is a luxury. Enoy your new country and keep informing us.

    Regards, Claudio

    • Claudio,

      Thank you so much for the comment! I throughly enjoyed your blog posts about Rwanda and the reminders that we take so many things for granted every day… From freedom, to our lifestyles…

  6. I lived in a home in Indonesia with a live-in maid. And then at one point there were two — when the maid’s younger cousin came to learn the secrets of the trade. I didn’t own the house, but I was a summer guest, so the presence of the full time maid was awkward at first, but I began to realize that for her family, this was an opportunity. Clean water. Clean four walls & a roof. Occasional trips to the market in a clean car. Perks like eating what the “rich” got to eat. Of course, she was responsible for 75% of the cooking, but that was a career. It gave me perspective that community like that needs all types. At least that’s my perspective of that experience.

    • David,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I love your example of quarters becoming more crowded by choice and to give someone an opportuity. And the reminder that even seemingly small perks can be a huge adventure and a blessing. My takeaway from lots of pondering and your collective comments is that our intentions towards others are critically important. The space we give someone to live may tell part of the story, but our actions tell the rest of the story.

  7. Hi Chery, My daughter is in Guatemala right now and has described conditions significantly worse than your extra space. I am removed from the experience here in America, but I believe her perspective would be that you have an opportunity to truly bless someone with your space. And being who you are, you would bless them with your love too!

    • Sue,

      Thank you so much for reminding me about your daughter being there! I bet she will have amazing stories to tell! Thanks too for the perspective!