Seek ‘new eyes,’ not new landscape

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
That quote from famed French novelist Marcel Proust appeared on my daily calendar.
Late last Saturday sitting at my desk, I thought about the quote and tried to look at our wooded backyard with “new eyes.” There was so much to see!
Beautiful red-orange trumpet vine flowers swaying in the wind. The graceful tall branches of the locust tree that towers above the house—with a lush green asparagus fern on the bottom branch.
A five-foot clay sculpture hidden in the bushes. A well-worn path to my daughter’s house and a colonial yard light to brighten her way.
All framed by two Japanese yews close to my window.
And that was just what I saw in the foreground. Really looking made me “see” not only the backyard but my husband in a different light, because he is the person who planted the hundreds of trees and bushes in our yard over the last 35 years.
Furthermore, he knows every one by name.
Among the trees are sugar maple, red maple, sweet gum, white pine, Austrian pine, flowering crab, English walnut, apple, dogwood, and gingko—one of the world’s oldest varieties of trees.
A slow-growing tree that can reach 120 feet in height.
He has planted more than 2,000 trees or bushes in his life!
Whether it’s landscapes or people, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust understood the importance of seeing in new ways. Born in 1871 to a prominent doctor and a witty mother from a monied family, Marcel’s literary talent was recognized early and he began his first book at age 22. But after four years abandoned it.
As a result, his first published book was a collection of short stories, essays, and poems at age 26. It was not a success.
Unfortunately, that was to be the story of his life—unfinished projects and little acclaim while he lived.
Early in his young adult years, Marcel lived the life of a socialite. Charming people with his wit and wealth, he gained access to high society, which he later used in his writing.
But soon after the death of his mother in 1905, Marcel withdrew from society. He had suffered from asthma attacks since childhood and now developed hypochondria.
He was terrified of everything, including heights, mice, and travel, and became a virtual recluse in his early 30s. He spent most of his days in bed, writing and visiting with friends only at night. His apartment was lined with cork to keep out the noise.
Yet this man, who seemingly saw few new landscapes, saw what many don’t. It is not so much the miles we cover or the vistas we see that help us grow. The most meaningful journeys often take place in our minds.
This is the essence of creativity. Encountering something old in a new way.
As you go through your regular routines this week, think about the people and places you take for granted. Then let yourself see them with new eyes.
You may be amazed what you’ll discover.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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