A few months ago my male partner gave me a light-blue microfiber cloth for cleaning my computer screen. It was also excellent for cleaning fingerprint smudges off the face of my phone, and I used it for that at least once a day. Then it disappeared, nowhere to be found. Eventually I forgot about it, using my fleece shirt-jacket to clean my phone screen instead.
This morning he told me he had noticed the microfiber cloth on top of my computer, behind my monitor, right between the 2 speakers! Hidden in plain sight! I must adjust the volume on those speakers a few times a week at least, or adjust the camera or microphone perched on the top edge of my monitor directly in front of this, in preparation for a Skype session. But I never saw the cleaning cloth there, because I never looked in that spot.
Lately as the sun gets lower in the sky and the days get shorter (I live in NY), I’ve been paying attention to focusing on and seeing smaller areas, not trying to take in the entire view in one big visual gulp. I especially do this when I’m walking outside, looking at that one remaining leaf fluttering on that tree, for example, rather than the whole landscape at once. But this experience with the microfiber cloth makes me think I’m still not really looking at what’s in front of me, I’m looking at what I expect to be there.
I remain convinced that the best vision practice may be to just look, and notice, and really see, without straining, with relaxed attention. Lately I’m noticing degrees of depth more, outdoors and inside both. Even when I do the Long Swing, as I twist my body and the scenery swings by me it feels subtly different if there’s a close tree or an empty space in front of my view, as the energy beam from my eyes reaches all the way out, or is blocked by something. When I first started doing the Long Swing years ago, my eyes were open but I don’t think I was registering much visual input. Now all the colors and differing depths and textures and amounts of light swirl past me, acknowledged briefly before they’re replaced by the next scene.
Although I often tell my vision students “If you don’t look, you won’t see!”, clearly I still need to take this advice myself! And looking means not just having the eyes open, it also means engaging the brain, paying attention to what is in front of my precious eyes, connecting visually with the world just as it is in that moment.