A New Lens on Life.

April 15, 2023

A New Lens on Life.

May 29, 2023

There is no shortage of metaphors to describe midlife, but none have resonated with me quite as profoundly as Leslie Bartlett’s literal and metaphorical ‘new lens on life.’

Leslie, MEA’s Director of Alumni Services, recently underwent cataract surgery on her left eye and quite literally, overnight, she began to appreciate the world in all its technicolor glory. This new sense of clarity and optimism was accompanied by a reframing of the way Leslie views midlife, an intentionality around what and how she sees the world and a renewed sense of excitement about what lies ahead.

French novelist, Marcel Proust once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” As Leslie walks with ‘new’ eyes, she has been reminded to soak up the beauty of where she is as well as rediscover a confidence and optimism for a future that’s much ‘brighter’ than she could ever have imagined.

It's through this fresh lens that Leslie has reinvigorated her waning sense of wonder for paths she has walked many times before. This newfound clarity has allowed her to see things for what they really are, not what her imagination had ‘coloured them in’ to be. Leslie feels more curious and confident to be true to who she really is and she’s making intentional choices around how she wants to live the second half of her life. She’s really living (and working) the ethos of MEA!

As we transition through the liminal moosh of midlife, the ability to see and rediscover the world through fresh eyes is a powerful practice. As we transition from endings and search for new beginnings, a clear lens plays a seminal role in being able to seek out and explore new paths with confidence and a fresh perspective.

Mark Nepo, an MEA guest faculty, tells the story of his grandmother who was sitting on the edge of her bed one day looking glum. “It’s a gray day” she said. Mark realized that her window had not been cleaned recently and when he pointed that out to her, with the recognition and humor of someone who’d been here for almost a hundred years, she sighed and said “Ah, gotta dirty eye, see a dirty world.”

For Leslie, the mismatch between her ‘new’ and ‘old’ (or left and right) eyes has accentuated the disparity between her muted perception of what was and the clarity and optimism for what she knows is still to come. And she can’t wait to double down and see her new technicolor world through both eyes, even if this includes owning the wrinkles and grey hair she now sees.

Ang Galloway is a midlife writer and an MEA alum living in Sydney, Australia. Leslie Bartlett is MEA’s Director of Alumni Services and it’s her birthday today.

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