“I like a view but I like to sit with my back turned to it.”
– Gertrude Stein
I’ve thought about this one for two days now and so far I’ve come up with two ideas of what she means.
Firstly, Ms. Stein was never very… normative, so this could be the eternal rebel in her, turning her back on the things most others would treasure. I know someone else like that. Maybe that is why I thought of this first.
The other circumstance I could think of was this, if one is standing still and admiring “the view”, where have you come from and where are you going next? If she’s made it to the view and turned her back on it, she’s moving on. I imagine a hillside or mountain peak, the expanse before us is the reward of the journey, but it isn’t really the end at all. It’s a way point, a place of rest and regathering, before continuing onward.
In Zen, we are not supposed to become too attached to anything. A View is certainly something lots of people become attached to, whether it is their view of other people, the view from their front porch, and especially, their view of themselves. But, we can always choose to turn our backs to it, to say, this is nice, but there are others; other views, other friends, other lives, other aspects of ourselves to accept.
I do like a view, I like to view myself as a good person, and sort of smart, and a deep thinker. But, I should more often turn my back on those views and look at the things I don’t like to see and accept them as well. I doubt she meant that, but that is where my mind has wandered to. What do you think she meant?