“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust
At a time when our world has shrunk considerably, and most of us are working, learning and living in the narrow, familiar confines of our homes, we could be forgiven for yearning to escape the monotony and boredom of the day-to-day.
Yet, there is something available to us in the sameness, perpetual nowness of our lives that can be surprisingly rich and enjoyable. Even illuminating. Rather than focus on our loss of freedom, we can take a leaf out of French author and adventurer Xavier de Maistre’s book ‘Journey around my bedroom’.
In 1790 de Maistre embarked on an adventure of a different kind, when he found himself under house arrest for 42 days as a punishment for participating in a duel. He set out to discover his bedroom, chronicling the journey in the book Journey around my bedroom. Writing in the style of the travel books of the era, de Maistre describes how he meanders through his room, slowly and non-linearly taking in the ‘sights’: “Once you’ve left my armchair, walking towards the north, you come into view of my bed”.
His approach to his journey is deceptively simple: be open, be present, be curious - “My soul is so open to every kind of idea, taste, and sentiment; it so avidly receives everything that presents itself!” [You can read a short excerpt from the book here]
De Maistre's ability to re-discover the known and the familiar, and his painstaking attention to detail are wonderful examples of a mindset that would serve us well more than 200 years later.
Where can you re-discover the familiar? What can you see with new eyes?