Last week as I was looking out my kitchen window, I realized that the view was really lacking. The marigolds are in full bloom out on the deck, but everything looked dull and dark. I took a closer look and found that not only was the window smudged, but the screen was also covered with dust. (Guess who doesn’t “do windows” around here?)

After a quick dusting and a swipe of window cleaner, everything came into focus: the blossoming petunias, the hummingbirds visiting my nasturtiums every morning, the weeds growing between the basil plants. Seeing clearly meant I saw every lovely petal and leaf, every fragrant herb and blossom, and each pesky slug and beetle, too.

I had another eye-opening experience last week. Someone I was working with did something I couldn’t understand, something I considered wrong. I suddenly saw them with different eyes, in a way I never expected or wanted to. Seeing them this way was sad and hard, but helpful and necessary. When I finally see someone clearly—slugs and all—I’m not sure that I can go back to the smudgy, dim view I held before (as much as I might want to).

This isn’t the first time this has happened, but I’m left wondering if I sometimes choose not to see things clearly because I know that a soft focus is more forgiving. It’s hard work to clean those windows, and sometimes we don’t like what we see.

Is it better not to look too closely? Or is it always better to see everything as clearly as possible? What do you think?