Since I grew up wearing thick glasses and was about 2/200 when I started vision improvement, my current visual range of 20/40 to 20/50 seems pretty good to me. (For those unfamiliar with measuring visual acuity, 2/200 means I needed to stand 2 feet from the eye chart to make out the large letter at the top, which someone with good eyesight could see at 200 feet.)
A few days ago I worked with a new vision client. Like many other folks I encounter, he thought the secret to improving his vision was strenuous eye exercises. As I talked about looking for the enjoyment in what he sees, whatever it is, and resting his eyes when they’re tired, or going for a walk and looking at trees instead of a computer screen, I could see his understanding shifting. He’s already doing yoga — this will just expand his growing awareness of his body to include his vision.
When I don’t really want to do something, like work on the bills or my taxes, I notice I can’t see as well. The vision improvement pioneer Dr. Bates called what we don’t like to look at a “pessimum”, and pointed out that we will see it worse than other things. Our eyes are resisting the view! If we’re looking at something we like which brings us joy, maybe a scene in Nature or the face of a beloved child, we’ll see that more clearly than other things. This is an “optimum” to us.
It would be great to live in Paradise where everything is pleasant and beautiful to look at, and we see it all clearly. That’s not most people’s reality. What I’ve been doing is enjoying what I can see clearly (especially if it used to be more blurry), and investigating a bit if something is hard for me to see. Am I tired, or getting a bad attitude from working too long? If so, my eyes are a perfect feedback mechanism telling me I need some self-care right now — there’s nothing wrong with my vision!
Recently I returned from the longest trip I’ve ever taken, about 18 hours of travel and 3 plane rides, to an intense training in a part of the world which was new to me. I was far out of my comfort zone, so took things slowly, looking for the good in everything around me, instead of getting upset when I didn’t know what to do. Even in the airports finding my gates, I don’t think I had any eyestrain at all the entire time I was away.
So could the answer to “How can I appreciate my vision, when I can’t see everything clearly?” be simply to enjoy what I can see, blurry or not? It feels a lot better to be grateful for my sight than it does to complain that it’s not perfect. As I focus on the positive, that seems to naturally and magically increase. Even in challenging situations I find myself asking now “What’s good about this that I’m overlooking?”. Look at that detail, then that other one. There is more around you to see than you realized. Take another glance, and let what you see delight you!
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Thanks Nancy for this great post. It reminded me again of the importance of relaxing and appreciating your current eyesight.
Mohammed, yes! There is always something good about your current level of eyesight, whatever it is, to appreciate and enjoy.
Thanks for reading, Mohammed. I am just now seeing some old comments, not ignoring you! Being grateful for the riches we have feels a lot better than being sad about what we don’t have.