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  • Adrian J. Boas

On the Ability to See


Last week I drove up north to show some friends around my castle. It might sound a bit presumptuous, not to say pompous, to refer to it as "my castle", but in some ways, I feel it is. And not only because one of my team members once walked up to me when I stood dreamily gazing over the northern slopes from the ruins of the Great Hall and said: "One day, Adrian, all of this will be yours."


I feel that I can claim a bit of ownership because, I very much doubt that there is anyone who has had a closer relationship with the castle than I have. To excavate a site is to get to know its most intimate parts, its secrets, its strengths and weaknesses, to observe its roots, to witness evidence of its birth, its growth and its demise. And it is to suffer bodily hardship (exhaustion, discomfort from the heat, back and knee pains, thirst and occasional injury) to worry and fear for it (I felt physical pain at observing wanton vandalism on this visit). But the mystery, the excitement of discovery and the continual learning experience are the greatest of gifts.


Observation is at the heart of my profession. Some people appear to go through life suffering from a sort of myopia. They observe what is in front of them or a little to either side, but rarely look up or down, and often don't really appear to see what they are looking directly at. I recall driving along the coast near Caesarea with a friend, and being overwhelmed by the vast swirling flocks of migrating storks. My fascination with this not infrequently encountered scene almost caused me to run into the car in front, while my companion showed absolutely no interest in the spectacle. I suppose that in many cases, this type of limitation extends beyond the visual. Many people appear to be myopic in their outlook and in their interests.


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