October 17. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust)
It seems that everyone is looking for something new. People are constantly looking for something that is fresh and exciting, something that challenges the mind and tingles the senses. Some people spend their whole life in search of the elusive “next big thing”. But, as Proust reminds us in this quote, usually the key to discovery isn’t in seeing what hasn’t been seen before, but to see what is constantly seen in a way that hasn’t been expressed.
My wife and I often talk about travel. We love to camp and to visit new places. Given her ultimate choice, those travels would include places much farther away, like Hawaii and Europe. I tend to be much more of a home body, as I think there is plenty to see right in my own state, and in the continental U.S.. If we were both head strong on our belief in how to approach travel, each session of vacation planning would result in long, drawn out arguments about going far, or staying close.
Thankfully we share one thing in common when it comes to exploring the world, and I would say my wife actually has it in greater measure than I do. We both can find wonder in things that are simple and familiar.
This weekend we camped for the last time in 2014 (I am a few days behind on my daily thoughts as a result). We have taken our camper hundreds of miles away over the past 4 seasons. This weekend we went to a State Park that is a mere 45 minutes from our house, and yet it felt fresh, new and remote. We were surrounded by close friends, which made the weekend even more enjoyable. At one point during the weekend, one of our friends mentioned that my wife and I had camped in this campground in the past. I protested that I was sure we hadn’t, but she continued with great detail about the trip and how her family came to visit us. A quick check of my camping log revealed that she was 100% correct. Two years ago we had camped in this spot, just a few hundred yards from where we were this weekend.
That got me to thinking. Was my memory truly failing me, or was there something else afoot? Well, with all due respect to my failing memory, I do think there was something else. Last time we camped at this place, my wife and I were alone. We were visited by friends, but we spent our nights with just the two of us. My camping log reveals that we had quite a good time. This time was different, not just because we were in a different campsite, but also because we were surrounded by two families that are such close friends. Because the makeup of this trip was so different, I saw everything with fresh eyes.
Both that previous trip and this one were very successful, fun outings. The difference for me was those fresh eyes.
I wouldn’t call a weekend camping trip a “voyage of discovery”, but it is a microcosmic example of the notion of this quote. When I see things with fresh eyes, when I allow myself to experience something with an open mind, then I create the opportunity in my life for new discoveries. I expand my own horizon of adventure when I take off the blinders.
This evening my reflection is on seeing things in a new light. Tonight I am thinking about where in my life I could choose to see things from a new angle, and what opportunities will be opened with that change in perspective.