Dr. Bates wrote about “optimums”, objects you enjoy looking at, so see more clearly than you’d expect. This could be a letter which seems clearer and darker than other letters of the same size on a row of the eye chart. Something in you likes this letter — maybe it’s your initial. In any case, the existence of optimums is additional evidence, as if we needed it, that vision is more than merely a mechanical function. How you feel about something has an effect on how well you see it.
When I first encountered the concept of optimums and pessimums (pessimums are objects you don’t like, so see less clearly), I was still wearing strong glasses and seeing everything with the same degree of relative blur. I was used to just accepting and making do with the sight which was delivered to my visual system through my thick lenses, not noticing whether some objects were clearer than others, then wondering why. I was pretty discouraged about my vision back then. Yet some part of me wondered, could I pretend to like looking at something I did not like, and see it better? Was this a key to better vision I had been missing?
This was before Law of Attraction, and “Think happy thoughts, and happy things will come to you”, which to me is misleading. If you’re seriously ill or in debt or your heart is breaking, donning a forced smile and continuing on as usual probably won’t help much. Yet I do think a positive attitude helps to achieve a positive result, as long as you’re taking other steps to help yourself too.
Yesterday I was thinking about this topic when I took the car out to run some errands. In mid-afternoon I could already sense the daylight fading. Since I discarded my glasses for good several years ago, the decreasing light is a mild source of stress for me this time of year. With every day having a minute or 2 less of sunlight, I can feel the old fear rising that I won’t be able to see at all. Then a tough-love guardian angel, who is helping me with my visual confidence, presented me with a narrow shaded area of roadway construction. Because the overhanging trees were so thick, it was quite dark here, like a tunnel. I was faced with glaring headlights from the oncoming cars trying to make their way through the maze, all of us directed by workers with orange vests which we couldn’t see in the dark, on a bumpy unpaved surface which was partly wooden planks. This was a perfect recipe for me to be un-grounded!
Sitting in my idling car, then inching forward, the dark/light/dark/light flickering from the strong sunlight sneaking through the leaves was particularly difficult for my eyes. I knew I was trying to see everything at once, that bad habit I still slide into when I’m stressed. Could I see this as an adventure instead of a struggle? I remembered I had wanted to focus on vision being fun, and took up the challenge. We were going so slowly there was really no danger, and maybe I could even see this as a little rest from being in normal traffic where people are driving dangerously, speeding and changing lanes without warning. I reminded myself that people with glasses probably couldn’t see as well as I could. As I felt myself getting calmer, my vision seemed to improve, and I became even calmer.
When I was growing up wearing thick glasses, vision itself was a source of strain for me. I was a nervous child, and my parents yelling at me “Put your glasses on! You’ll ruin your eyes!” made me more nervous. I wore my strong glasses all the time, even for reading which I did a lot of. If information about vision improvement had been readily available back then, maybe I would have been urged to go outside without my glasses, to play catch or ride my bike or climb a tree. This would have been much better for me and for my sight.
The child in the picture is having fun, looking near and far naturally and easily, while the swing goes up and down. Take another look at those challenging visual experiences — is there a way they could be more fun for you? About my driving adventure, some people pay money to go on dangerous scary carnival rides. That’s not me — the thrills seem to come to me without my seeking them out. I don’t intend to put myself in danger, but I do intend to keep driving for a long time, and to enjoy it, like a teenager who sees it as a mark of independence. The combination of movement and peripheral awareness (when I’m not in a dark tunnel, that is) delights my visual system. How can you have more fun seeing?
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