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Michael R. Mennenga

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Food For Thought
by Michael R. Mennenga   

Last edited: Thursday, August 16, 2001
Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2001

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This was an Internet joke that has made it's way around the net for years. I really liked the main theme but felt that it was very wrong to find humor in the message.
This is a re-edit of the original joke, emphasizing the strong message within. I have also added a few comments of my own (of course)
*If anyone would like to step forward and claim the original, I would be happy to add him or her as a source*

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 away fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window while the other man spent all his time flat on his back.
The men passed the time by talking for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families. Their homes, their jobs, their involvement in military service, and where they had traveled on vacation. In the afternoon, when the man by the window could sit up, he would describe all the things he could see outside.
The man who was kept flat on his back began to live for the one-hour periods when his world would be broadened and enlightened by all the activity and color described to him about the world outside. The bed-ridden man was told how the window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with perfectly detailed and descriptive words.
Within time, a sinister thought entered the bed-ridden man’s mind. “Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he was never allowed to see anything?” he thought. It did not seem fair to him that he could not also be by the window and take in the beauty of the outside world.
At first the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. "I should be by that window," he thought day after day. That single thought, and that thought alone, now controlled his life. Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the suffocating man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room, the prone man never moved. He never pushed his own button, which would have brought the nurse. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped along with the sounds of breathing. There was now only silence.
The following morning the day nurse arrived and found the lifeless body of the man by the window. She was saddened by his death and called the hospital attendants to take him away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, and painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the glorious world outside that had been so painstakingly described to him. He would finally have the joy of seeing the outside world for himself. He strained against his weak and stiffened body and slowly turned to look out the window beside the bed. Finally peering over the windowsill, his face washed with pain as his gaze met a blank wall. He lay back down and thought about the man that had died, trying to understand how he could have made up such stories and remember the things he had spoke of.
The next day, the man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate to lie and described such wonderful things outside this window when it only looked upon a blank wall. The nurse informed him that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She then added, "Perhaps he just wanted to share with you the wonderful things that he had remembered seeing during his life."

Epilogue . . . You may interpret this story in any way you like, however one moral stands clear. The enemy of our human experience is this unending need to have more than our fellow man. Greed shows itself in many forms, and always tends to destroy more than it brings. What pain has it brought you? What have you given back to the world around you, and who in your community could benefit from just an hour a day? We spend most of our lives trying to collect things and stuff that has no hope in bringing us the joy of one day with close family or friends. This time on earth is so very short, and every day we waste over half of it on sleep and work. What have you given back to your little part of the world today?
I cannot take full credit for this piece, since I got the idea for this story from an e-mail joke that was sent to me with no author listed. The joke was intended as humor, but the point was far too powerful to be passed off as such. I think this is much more fitting as a story that makes you think, and not just another bad joke to make you laugh.
Re-Edited By Michael R. Mennenga
(Executive Editor ‘The Dragon Page’)

Web Site: Dragon Page

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Reviewed by E. Annette Merz 8/23/2001
Thank you, Michael. This was just what I needed read tonight. How did you know?
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