“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”–Henry Miller
Sundays are delicious days. Finally, the work-weary can feast on time. We say of Monday, the most unpopular day of the week, we’ll “hit the ground running.” We lament that until the weekend we “won’t have time to turn around.” But today I do. And I did.
In Nashville, Sundays began on my deck under my grandmother’s quilt. In the trees I’d rest, recharge and remember. There God lifted my gaze from problems to possibilities. I’d later walk Ella, ready to face the world again with faith, love, and hope. As if she’d never seen the familiar greenway, she’d strain at the leash leading me. I’d, too, with new eyes, see panoramic beauty on our path.
In Marrakech, today began on my balcony in a handmade chair delivered on the back of a motor scooter. My feet propped on a pouf under a Moroccan wedding quilt, I was reminded in my quiet time of the same promises. But this time my chair faced a different direction.
Last August when I stepped on my new balcony, I took a quick look down the alley both ways. At one end I saw cluttered buildings and satellite-covered rooftops. On the lower end, nearer my apartment, I saw pretty palm trees, green space, and hills in the distance. I loved that view and have looked that way each time I stepped outside since.
But today, I looked the other way.
I couldn’t believe it. There they were. My favorite site in Marrakech–The Atlas Mountains–strong and beautiful, peered back at me as I stood, amazed. Though hidden behind summer heat and sand when I moved in, they must have shown themselves last winter. They had been there all along. For months I could have enjoyed them on clear days, if only I’d looked a different way.
Two years ago, my friend, Kim, gave me this Marcel Proust quote on a porcelain plaque. Neither of us knew I’d be moving to a French- speaking country: “Le véritable voyage de découverte ne consiste pas à chercher de nouveaux paysages, mais à avoir de nouveaux yeux.” Translated, it means, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
A friend asked yesterday what I’ve learned most since the move. I said I realize now that understanding people and places takes time. That just when I couldn’t be happier and think I have this thing of living cross-culturally “all figured out,” a situation or person disappoints me and I feel I’ve slipped back to square one. But if I take a breath–my yoga class helps with this–release, pray, I realize I just need to step back. To wait and watch. To be patient with circumstances and others. And with myself.
Sometimes we find beauty, as I did, at the end of the street and are satisfied to stop looking for more. Contentment is good and being thankful for what we do have even better. Settling is not. Knowing the difference is hard. Sometimes we aren’t ready to see something even better–wouldn’t recognize it–even if it appeared. Others we scan the horizon in faith, in expectation for a vision for our life, a deep desire, a dream planted in our hearts long ago to be fulfilled. Today before stepping outside I was reminded though parts of the vision I have for my life tarry, to wait. What I desire may be years away or right around the corner. In the meantime, I’m thankful for my destiny and this day.
I’m still thankful for the pretty patch of green at the end of the street that continues to soothe me. The sun sets there. But I’m amazed to see today that it rises over the majestic Atlas Mountains, symbols of strength, gifts of beauty, within my vision. With patience, they revealed themselves when I looked up in a new direction. When I could see.