PORCH SWING POINT OF VIEW: In Search of Ourselves


In August 2012, a group of tourists visiting Iceland realized one of their bus tour mates was missing after a rest-stop break. A search soon began for the missing woman and continued for several hours before the missing woman realized she was in fact searching for herself. It seems she had opted to change into more comfortable attire during the break and thus had not been recognized by any of her tour companions upon her return. Their description of her was so vague that she was unable to identify herself as the person for whom the group was searching. A bit embarrassing to stay the least, but I suppose all is well that ends well. The woman who was never missing was found.

The story got me thinking though, how accurate would our descriptions be of those we live, work, and spend time with each day? How would a husband describe his wife? I certainly wouldn’t count on him to remember what color clothing she was wearing! Would a coworker be able to accurately detail hair or eye color? Or would a neighbor be able to pinpoint height just from chatting with someone from across the yard a few times a week? It becomes a bit of a taller order than we might think, doesn’t it?

But now ask those same people to describe in other terms. The husband that may not remember his wife’s particular outfit may very well remember the way she looked at him on their first dat

In August 2012, a group of tourists visiting Iceland realized one of their bus tour mates was missing after a rest-stop break. A search soon began for the missing woman and continued for several hours before the missing woman realized she was in fact searching for herself. It seems she had opted to change into more comfortable attire during the break and thus had not been recognized by any of her tour companions upon her return. Their description of her was so vague that she was unable to identify herself as the person for whom the group was searching. A bit embarrassing to stay the least, but I suppose all is well that ends well. The woman who was never missing was found.

The story got me thinking though, how accurate would our descriptions be of those we live, work, and spend time with each day? How would a husband describe his wife? I certainly wouldn’t count on him to remember what color clothing she was wearing! Would a coworker be able to accurately detail hair or eye color? Or would a neighbor be able to pinpoint height just from chatting with someone from across the yard a few times a week? It becomes a bit of a taller order than we might think, doesn’t it?

But now ask those same people to describe in other terms. The husband that may not remember his wife’s particular outfit may very well remember the way she looked at him on their first date. The coworker that can’t remember hair or eye color will recount with vivid memory the time one listened to their troubling situation and offered advice and a shoulder on which to lean. And the neighbor won’t be able to guess height within a foot, but can certainly tell you how tasty the chicken casserole was that was brought when her husband was ill. 

Finally, how accurate would our descriptions be of ourselves? How are we recognized by the people around us? Do they remember us for our kind words and actions, for our love and generosity? Or are we recognized in a rather less-flattering light? In fact, would we be able to recognize ourselves at all? 

I hope you know yourself well enough to recognize your reflection, not only in the mirror, but also in the ways and words those close use to describe you. If you’re not happy with how you think you’d be described, perhaps it’s time to make a change. And no time is better than now.

I happen to be blessed with the cutest niece in the world. Don’t even bother offering yours up, because mine takes first prize. She is just about a year and a half old, and due to the pandemic, her opportunity to be with her great-grandmother has been unfortunately limited, much to each of their disappointment. Though my niece can only babble at this point, and has no true concept of her great-grandmother, still when she arrives at her grandma’s house, she knows. She recognizes the woman who loves her, who anticipates spending time and playing with her, who gives her kisses and hugs, who sneaks her treats and goodies. You see, she recognizes the traits before the person. She may not be able to verbally express it, but the recognition is real. It’s genuine. It’s love in a pure form. 

Let us all strive to be recognized as genuine and true, and let us remember to recognize those traits in ourselves. And if I should ever become lost on the streets of Buckhannon, I hope one of you will casually (and discretely!) remind me to stop searching for myself!

The coworker that can’t remember hair or eye color will recount with vivid memory the time one listened to their troubling situation and offered advice and a shoulder on which to lean. And the neighbor won’t be able to guess height within a foot, but can certainly tell you how tasty the chicken casserole was that was brought when her husband was ill. 

Finally, how accurate would our descriptions be of ourselves? How are we recognized by the people around us? Do they remember us for our kind words and actions, for our love and generosity? Or are we recognized in a rather less-flattering light? In fact, would we be able to recognize ourselves at all? 

I hope you know yourself well enough to recognize your reflection, not only in the mirror, but also in the ways and words those close use to describe you. If you’re not happy with how you think you’d be described, perhaps it’s time to make a change. And no time is better than now.

I happen to be blessed with the cutest niece in the world. Don’t even bother offering yours up, because mine takes first prize. She is just about a year and a half old, and due to the pandemic, her opportunity to be with her great-grandmother has been unfortunately limited, much to each of their disappointment. Though my niece can only babble at this point, and has no true concept of her great-grandmother, still when she arrives at her grandma’s house, she knows. She recognizes the woman who loves her, who anticipates spending time and playing with her, who gives her kisses and hugs, who sneaks her treats and goodies. You see, she recognizes the traits before the person. She may not be able to verbally express it, but the recognition is real. It’s genuine. It’s love in a pure form. 

Let us all strive to be recognized as genuine and true, and let us remember to recognize those traits in ourselves. And if I should ever become lost on the streets of Buckhannon, I hope one of you will casually (and discretely!) remind me to stop searching for myself!

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