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The borrowed view… the lovely, sexy borrowed view… no, it’s not a morning TV panel of women in heated discussion… or a euphemism for a Peeping Tom.

No, of course not. But close your blinds just to be on the safe side… although my lawyer will be using it for my legal defence after I raise bail and return to social isolation instead of solitary confinement.

No, the borrowed view is a term my wife often uses as she gazes west out our living room window towards lush, sweeping Ambrosia apple orchards and a mammoth volcanic rock edifice in the near-distance called Giant’s Head Mountain…

… neither of which are situated on our “owned” property but that we happily accept as part of our daily vista ie. our borrowed view.

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A view from our window of Giant’s Head

Usually, a borrowed view is understood as the Chinese-originated principle of “incorporating background landscape into the composition of a garden” found in traditional East Asian garden design.

You should know by now that I’m into Idea Sex, mixing ideas in a blender to create a new thought.

As we’ve trudged through these troubled days of climbing virus infections, obvious racism and other human rights’ problems, I’ve reflected and Idea Sex’ed on my personal “borrowed view” of a slightly different sort.

It’s a sort of Peeping Tommery, but in a positive light.

Racism and hatred would be lessened across the globe with this version of a borrowed view, or as my Syrian friend says in his newfound English idiom… taking a walk in someone else’s shoes.

Life’s good fortune, and admittedly, some not-too-bad choices of my own, have afforded me opportunities to see the world through others’ eyes… to walk in others’ shoes, to at least a limited degree.

I benefit from the richness of a borrowed view of the people I’ve encountered (and so do you when you think of it).

On the flip side of this, I know I’ve been able to share my “view” with others so that they can see the world a little bit differently from my perspective.

We’ve both been enriched by this borrowed sharing of the walk.

OK, one small example of this.

In 1982, Lionel, a young, black-as-night skinned Guyanese man and his wife and five young kids, lived in a tiny house next door to our rental basement apartment in a picturesque small town called Hantsport, Nova Scotia.

Lionel had migrated to Canada in order to train to become a clergyman. He had a thick accent and a gorgeous smile. And a big bible.

I liked Lionel instantly, and for the next few months we spent some time bonding over (or under) some barbells in the cramped basement area next to our apartment.

He was a man of great religious faith. I sat on the opposite side of the God-fearing fence.  However, Lionel and I both grew as humans (no, not just muscle-wise!) as we sweat-pumped iron and talked about our life experiences and views.

We were both inquisitive and respectful. It was heartwarming to get to know him a little.

My WASP worldview was broadened, altered, and enlightened, just as Lionel astonishingly discovered that a heathen could understand and live the Golden Rule sans a bible in hand.

We were able to pass to each other a “borrowed view”.

Another example? OK, a bit more recent.

Ten years ago, we travelled to Cusco, Peru where we lived for 4 months in the high Andes. We studied Spanish and became lightly immersed in ancient Incan culture, but more importantly, immersed in a lovely family of Incan descendants.

This Quechua family generously took us into their home on occasions, and shared meals and holidays, market shopping trips and local football games, dancing and much-too-much chicha (corn beer). My Spanish conversation skills jump dramatically while quaffing chicha!

They lived a simple, rustic life under precarious conditions where a heavy rainfall might possibly destroy their house (and actually has done so partially in the intervening years).

We could see their smiles and hear their laughter but also understand some of the hardships that life had brought their way.

It was/is a difficult existence that they bear with grace and love, and they unselfishly shared it all with us giving us a beautiful borrowed view. We remain friends to this day.

These days, my borrowed view comes through the eyes of a young Syrian man that I tutor each week (online currently). We study and work hard together but also laugh deeply and share a trust and affection. I have the privilege of understanding the world a tiny bit better through the lens of his Muslim perspective.

The more borrowed views I take in, the more I understand the one-ness of our planet. It’s never good to think of the world as US against THEM… it’s US with THEM.

The search for common ground and compassion is much simpler when we experience through our own individual encounters and not the media or the internet.

Hatred is so much easier when it’s held and seen at a distance.

These are the things that remind me that we all live with boundaries and borders just as I have a property boundary here in Summerland.

But life is much richer for us all when we search out and embrace the “borrowed view”.

Just remember, the borrowed view is best applied looking OUT your window and not INTO someone else’s.

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One of my favourite borrowed views… WALL STREET! Booyah!