When I was a child I often “had my nose buried in a book”, wearing my minus glasses which were no doubt over-prescribed. I did spend time outside, but I don’t remember looking around much. When I climbed a tree, I dreamed, examining the pictures in my imagination instead of surveying the scenery. Or I perched on a sturdy branch to read the book I’d brought along.
The very few times I took off my glasses, I felt helpless and vulnerable. The world was so big and I was so little! It was like standing at the edge of an abyss, with no safety fence. The last thing I wanted to do was explore and reach out! I wanted to draw back and inward as tightly as possible, to curl into myself like a pill bug.
Starting vision improvement, I experimented with doing simple activities without my glasses. The world seemed overwhelming and threatening at first, like it had as a child. I scared myself repeatedly by trying to make do with too-weak prescription glasses before I was ready, or by pushing myself to go without glasses. I felt so unsafe! It was like going into battle without my armor and shield.
Taking a walk around my tranquil neighborhood without my glasses made me very anxious when I first attempted it. I could see well enough to navigate, but there was no way I wanted to interact with anyone. I expected people to dislike me, or even to criticize me, whether they knew me or not. Why would I want to look at their faces?
Gradually I began to practice walking while looking ahead or even up, not at my feet as I’d been doing for so many years. I looked tentatively into the near distance, and observed my reactions with interest. I could feel less worry on my brow, and my neck and shoulders were happier and more relaxed with my head held upright. I challenged myself to at least glance at the people I encountered while wearing a friendly smile, and to nod or to murmur “Hello”. Avoiding looking is strain, and I was actively trying to reduce that.
While I’ll probably never be called outgoing, I’m more comfortable interacting with others than I ever was when I wore strong glasses. Yes, my imperfections are as obvious as ever, and I think because I accept myself, I am less worried that others are judging me. When I observe myself and my looking behavior now, I notice I’m turning my head left and right to scan the view as I walk, letting my gaze travel outward to the mountains in the distance or up to the clouds high overhead, then back close to me to check out a nearby flowering bush. I want to see it all.
Today the images are interesting to me at every distance. I’m no longer afraid to look at a faraway scene, compelled to flee from looking at it because it feels like too much. The more I use my eyes, the more I appreciate my sight. Beauty is everywhere, near and far. Take it in!
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