New eyes

New eyes

By Lonneke — October 07, 2015 08:13 am

Curiosity and amazement are often said to be the ways to live mindfull and content life. And Marcel Proust wrote: the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

How long does it take before one's fresh look withers? How often must one see a wonder of nature or piercing work of art, before one stops registering this consciously? How many times do your eyes admire a vast dune landscape, moved, before your brain stores it in the drawer seen-that?

It is possible too, to get tired of your surroundings, but to rediscover these again later. My love and I grew up on the beautiful island Texel, but by the time you finish college, you really long to leave for the mainland, to broaden your horizon. Not once, I laid at night in my studentbed, pondering in melancholy about the forest or the Hors lakes. I did think about the beach, but mainly as a scenery for a get together with my friends from the island.

After the birth of our second son we decided we wanted to return to our roots, mainly because we wanted to give our children the same amount of freedom in their youth as we ourselves had enjoyed. Ever since we moved back, we take long walks every weekend through one of the many different national parks and we experience how healthy this is for our boys: they are still so connected with the diverse natural surroundings. It appeals in such a major way to their discovery urge and their hunger for adventure. Nevertheless we are not completely in awe anymore, walking around these areas, but it now feels like a warm, familiar, comfortable jacket. Some sort of middleground: definitely not jaded, neither in astonishment, but always very appreciative.

A while ago I rode my bike over the dike alongside the IJssel lake, going nowhere. It seemed as if a whole theatre play was performed especially for me: the sailboats and fisherboats slid supple through the smooth water, on the other side of the dike a litttle lamb jumped on his brother's back, trails of ducklings diligently swam behind their mother, and a goose defended her babies against an obtrusive cow, by spreading her wings wide and hissing very clear warnings at the moo. The environment was typically for North Holland, actually exactly what I was used to, but I caught myself with a languid smile on my face, I could hardly take it all in.

The fact that I wasn't going anywhere will certainly have contributed to the experience. Because when I am on Texel and ride my bike to work, my mind is already so preoccupied with what I'm going to encounter and things I'll have to do, that I forget to stop and gaze softened at the nursing lambs in the meadow. So besides the subject which you observe, your disposition of that moment certainly determines how you take it all in.

Now that we're in Sri Lanka, I wake up to a new world every day, literally! So it's easy to be amazed and soak it all in with such pleasure and gratitude. Our senses are stimulated all the time (the scents, the humidity, the colours, the tastes), but I am curious how the locals here experience their surroundings. I'll keep my eyes and ears open and are curious about their stories.

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