Dirty Skylights and Scraped Chins

When you look through a skylight into the blue sky and white clouds, what do you see? Do you focus on the brilliance of the celestial? Or do you see the bugs and rain on the glass? Both exist. It takes training to focus beyond the windowpane, as in a Magic Eye illusion book where you study and stare and eventually are rewarded with visualizing a beautiful, three-dimensional pattern. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

Dirty Skylights and Scraped Chins

Similarly, though we interact with our fellow man each day, we often pass by each other with thoughts in our minds stereotyping each other; we see only the "bugs" and "rain" without listening and allowing others to share the beauty in their hearts and the uniqueness of themselves.

Is it possible for an American nurse and a patient from Africa to perceive each other clearly?

Can they look at each other and really see individuality without allowing horror stories, stereotypes, and personal ambitions to paint a picture of what they want to see?

I believe that they can and that seeing another clearly leads to the necessity of attempting to understand who they are and why they act as they do. Everyone has perceptions, inspirations, beliefs, stories, and values they call their own. These elements comprise cultures and contribute to the tapestry of diversity on planet Earth.

Understanding is what helps to weave the threads into workable relationships, friendships, and communities. Understanding is recognizing that the glass, the blue sky, and the bugs all exist, and choosing to see all elements - while hopefully focusing on the blue sky above all. Perception and understanding are ideas important to implement in the care of any client of the healthcare system, not only those from other cultures. Nevertheless, some values are the same across cultures.

I learned this lesson on a soccer field of a Tibetan refugee camp in a Nepalese resort town. There, on a summer afternoon, I met three little girls who appeared to be friends. Kneeling down next to them, I noticed a gash on the underside of one girl's chin. Her white, button-up school uniform blouse bore rust-colored bloodstains. Small strands of cotton, which had apparently been used to stop the bleeding, still stuck to the gaping wound.

I asked what had happened; the little girls shared the story in broken English. The injured girl was reluctant to smile; when I asked if I could use my medical supplies to bandage her chin, she gave me permission.

A butterfly bandage helped to close the wound, and my pen drawing of a smiley-face on the bandage helped to soothe her spirit. I decorated her friends' chins also, understanding well the universal importance of not standing out by looking different from our peers, especially at the tender age of nine years old.

True, I did not agree with some of the Tibetan peoples' beliefs as I listened to their stories and struggles, but I tried to understand what they are going through and how the wrongs that they have suffered impacts their lives today. Most of all, I understood that some needs - such as love and acceptance - transcend culture. They are simply characteristic of human nature. I choose - and challenge others to as well - to look through dirty skylights and past cultural misperceptions to see the real human being.

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Specializes in alzeheimers, skilled, assis. living.

This post was very beautiful. It has reminded me of being kind to my residents no matter what. You don't always have to feel that you like them, but it is our duty to be kind. And just maybe they can learn from our love how to pass on love to another. Thank you for the post, you seem so genuine!

Specializes in geriatrics,med/surg,vents.

Journeygirl,what a beautiful post,I found that first paragraph so powerful and uplifting.Would it be alright if I copied it and sent it to a friend?

Specializes in OB/GYN.

Sure, feel free:-) Glad you enjoyed it.

Loved the skylight metaphor! Nice job.

I wish your story had been longer. Can you tell us which of their beliefs you "did not agree with"?