Alain de Botton, a British-Swiss philosopher, makes an interesting observation that has particular relevance in our current COVID circumstances.
He reflects on the following scene:
Two people are seated on a plane travelling to the same destination. One is excited and full of anticipation while the other is more subdued, resigned to the inevitable. One is about to visit a holiday destination for the first time, while the other passenger is returning home to work and the normal routines of life.
Two people, same destination and Alain’s observation is that our attitude creates a different response to the same environment.
He reflects that it is all about how we view what we see or experience. Happiness, he says, is always a psychological issue.
We seek and expect to discover beauty in other exotic places – we take photos to hold the moment, the feeling, the experience. We splash our delight all over social media, beaming faces, drinks in hand, colour all around us.
He notes that there is a ‘sad blindness and haste in modern travel.’ We do rush across the surface as a way of life.
He suggests that perhaps we could put away the camera and draw. Really begin to notice and see and enjoy beauty. Training ourselves to notice, not look, but really see.
He then takes the notion further and challenges us to look at our ‘home town,’ our everyday locale as a traveller might.
We could, with a shift of attitude, begin to see where we are through the curious and expectant eyes of a tourist.
His conclusion is that pleasure depends on outlook, not place. I concur with these sage observations and have enjoyed hearing friends’ stories of local discoveries as they engage in a ‘staycation’. I’ve seen photos of local waterfalls, hiking trails to caves and natural wonders, magnificent sunset scenes photographed from local beaches. Yes it is possible to discover beauty right where we are.
And so another lesson arises from this COVID season; home and our surrounds are worthy of attention, there is beauty where we are, our ordinary everyday surroundings can capture our imagination and become interesting and inspiring.
I think T.S.Elliot captured this concept very poignantly in the following excerpt from his work, ‘Four Quartets’
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.