It’s a common habit of nearsighted folks to get very close to things to try to see them. When I attended a workshop several years ago with Peter Grunwald, the developer of the Eyebody Method of vision improvement, he separated us into groups of folks with the same visual challenge. When he sat on the floor and asked my nearsighted group to come up and work with him, he joked that it seemed we all wanted to be in his lap, we came so close!
Recently I’ve been noticing my habit of getting closer than I need to be to see well, and I’m trying to change that now. Some vision improvement students experiment with “print pushing”, backing away from the computer screen or book until the print is slightly blurry, to challenge their vision and break up this habitual pattern. Yesterday while pouring my morning tea from the hot water kettle, I realized my face is much closer than it needs to be to see the mouth of my thermos, or whether it’s full yet. I backed up several inches, and was startled by a glimpse of my watchful eye reflected in the side of the shiny kettle, the first time I had ever seen this. Wow, I can see more if I’m farther away!
You can notice this with a landscape. If you stand right in front of a tree, that’s about all you’ll see. You won’t see the adjacent trees, which you would if you were farther away riding by on a train, like in this photo. For those who are not near-sighted, it probably seems like I’m pointing out the blatantly obvious. Of course you can see more from farther away — you have a more expansive view! This does make sense to me, and my body is still learning that it’s true, it’s such a change for me.
When an artist wants to see if the painting she’s working on “looks good”, she backs away and views it from a distance. This is even true of problems! If I’m over-focused on the minor setback of the day, I’m missing things — what will I learn getting past this, which will increase my skill set? How important will the present issue seem when I look back on it a few years from now?
I doubt the ability to focus on small details up close will ever start to fade for me — it seems to be part of my nature. And of course I don’t want to lose it. (I wrote about preferring a narrow view here.) Now I’d like to add the easy ability to see the bigger picture from farther away than I do at present. If I can really get it that I’ll see more from a greater distance than from up close, that will motivate me. I want to see as much as possible. My near-sighted peering mindset is becoming more open-minded!