Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom - Seeing the World Differently

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

The Pena Castle in Sintra, Portugal

Marcie and I just returned from 2½ glorious weeks in Italy and Portugal, a trip that has been on our bucket list for quite some time. It was by far our longest vacation ever. We designed our own itinerary and made our own arrangements, with the aid of a superb travel agent. We had no children or traveling companions, just the two of us. We love being together and that left us free to fully soak up these two grand and colorful cultures.

During our adventure we experienced far too much to adequately describe here, even with pictures, but some highlights include: castles, cathedrals, country villas, art, museums, music, food, friendly people, great weather, orchards, gardens, forests, new discoveries (like eating barnacles - delicious!), beaches, mountains, canals, the Tuscany countryside, walled and hilltop towns, Douro River cruise, romance, extraordinary beauty everywhere. (Look me up on Facebook if you want to see more.)

The fishing village of Burano, Italy

One of the most valuable things travel affords me is the opportunity to experience the world afresh, with a new perspective and through a new set of eyes. Seeing how others live today and how they lived millennia ago changes the way I see my own life. I return from a foreign visit alive with creativity, because "a new set of eyes brings a day full of possibilities." (Mama Deb) Stepping away from my daily routines - and even out of my comfort zone - frees me to re-think what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and why.
Another result of travel is that the essence of the places I visit becomes woven into the blood and sinew of my being. Being there changes me. What I see and hear and smell and feel and taste on foreign soil transforms me into a more informed and understanding person, leaving me more compassionate, humble, tolerant, flexible, and grateful. It is true, as Anita Desai writes, that "wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow." I feel I am now a bit Italian and a bit Portuguese, yet no less American than before.

The Alhambra Room in the Palacio da Bolsa in Porto, Portugal

When I was growing up on a small dairy farm in Fruitland, New Mexico, our family of 14 didn't travel much at all. There were simply too many people, too little money, and too few occasions to escape the urgency of milking cows twice a day. Maybe that's why in my later years I cherish every opportunity I have to visit other countries. This most recent expedition changed me in profound ways: I have a new set of eyes and a new heart. Having seen more of the rest of the world, I now see my own world differently. 

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