Two days ago, at a bookstore/cafe in Golden, I opened a book about “vital energy” to discover a quote by Proust: “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Well, I’m doing both. And for someone like me, who has a really hard time seeing what’s right in front of her, new landscapes are the surest way to new eyes that I have found yet. Have you ever noticed that, in a new place, you notice things? At home, my surroundings tend to become a passive backdrop in the saga of my life. The buildings in my neighbourhood, the mountains across the bay, even neighbours that I pass by when I’m out getting groceries become props that I barely think about as I navigate the rocky landscape of my internal life. In short, I don’t notice things because I am self-absorbed.
Have you ever suddenly noticed that an old structure (a store, a school, an entire apartment building) in your neighbourhood, or along your daily commute has disappeared and been replaced by an entirely new structure, without you noticing? That happens to me all the time. (I live in Vancouver, where things are constantly being torn down and rebuilt, so this does, in fact, happen “all the time”. I’m not even exaggerating.)
Two days ago, my travel buddy and I arrived in Canmore, and I settled in, waiting for my ability to notice things to come back to me. And it has, but it’s taking more effort than it used to. I don’t know if I have more roots than I once did, so untangling myself isn’t quite so easy, or if, in my old age, I’ve become one of those people who actually plans things, or if social media is just making it that much harder to exist in the present moment. But I arrived in Canmore, and after taking in the stunning scenery, I settled in for an evening of catching up on my Facebook messages (I have people to meet with, climbing days to plan) and emails (I have financial loose ends to tie up and work to attend to). After perusing a guidebook for hikes in the Rockies, I got sidetracked by a giant Lonely Planet guide to India. (The friend whose room I am renting has a pretty inspiring book collection.)
The irony of planning a trip to India while on a trip to the rockies wasn’t lost on me. It is so hard to just be where we are.
Another irony is that the solution to getting out of my own head and into the life I am currently living seems to involve getting into my own head. Because it doesn’t come naturally -I have to learn it.
I think Canmore might be the best possible place to do so.