On the Home Page of Older Eyes- Bud’s Blog is one of my favorite sayings, a quote from Marcel Proust: The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. That this is my favorite saying says a lot about me. For one, it says that I like stability, things that last like long marriages and houses that become homes as decades pass. It says I have not been especially interested in traveling, particularly for extended periods of time, instead exploring my Inner Space and noticing beauty others miss in the nearby. Below Proust’s axiom on my Home Page is my personal corollary: Sometimes Older Eyes work, too. To put it another way, older eyes can be new eyes. I think that is the best thing about growing old gracefully … if you take time to realize that nothing lasts forever, things you may have taken for granted in your forties become the most lovely in your sixties and beyond, the very definition of new eyes.
For the last two weeks, I’ve stepped out of character … I’ve traveled to Europe with the Love of My Life and two dear friends. I’ve looked at New Horizons with these older new eyes. This now-seventy history-hating twenty-year old reveled in the history around him in Rome and Florence and Pompeii … and tried to catch every word of the guides. This sometimes cynical former Catholic choked up at the glory of St. Peter’s Basilica.
I was humbled by standing under Michealangelo’s frescos in the Sistine Chapel knowing I was standing on the very ground where the cardinals conclave to elect a Pope. I saw the the beautiful Pieta, my Mom’s favorite sculpture. I actually gasped aloud when we walked into the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma in La Palma, Majorca. I managed in places where English was only slightly spoken … and in a few where no effort was made to understand us … in a large part because my friend Ron seems to be comfortable anywhere and can draw even a grumpy Italiano into a conversation. I owe him for showing me how to do the same. I went on forced marches through ruins and took long bus rides to see cities restored from under volcanic ash and seaside Mediterranean villages. I saw things I never really thought I’d see. I don’t believe in bucket lists but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy seeing things in person that I’d only seen in books. I’ve stayed away from home for twelve days, almost a week outside my comfort zone. And I had a great time doing it. New Horizons … and with people I love. I’m a lucky man.
I have friends who love to travel and they probably wonder if this will give me the infamous travel bug. I hate to disappoint them. Muri and I are at our centers homebodies. We love our own spaces, whether it’s her love seat in the bedroom, my recliner in the family room or our own respective places in the park. We value solitude in ordinary but sacred places. We both like short, relaxing vacations. For me, it’s hard to beat a week in Maui. On the other hand, I have a few more places I’d like to see, Paris among them and, God willing, we’ll set off for New Horizons a few more times before the curtain comes down on our lives. Because there’s more than one way to take the Voyage of Discovery, even at seventy.