Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.
One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon, to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was alongside the room’s two windows.
The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back, in the bed nearest the door.
The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military services, where they had been on holiday – all manner of topics.
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the windows could sit up, he would describe to his roommate all the things he could see outside the nearest window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods, when his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside. The windows overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm-in-arm amidst flowers of every colour, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man described all this in exquisite detail, the man flat on his back in the other bed would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scenes. One warm afternoon, the man described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as his companion described it every detail.
The days, weeks and months passed, following the same routine.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to give them their morning tablets, only to find thel ifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened, of course, and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the windows. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out through the window beside the bed.
It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his roommate to describe such wonderful things outside the windows.
The nurse replied that the man was totally blind and couldn’t even see the wall. She added, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situation.
If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.