(Coincidentally, I wrote this post last week BEFORE ‘what color is the dress’ set the world a-twitter!)
We see, look, view, observe, peer, watch, stare, examine, gaze …
How we characterize vision is unique to each of us – a combination of visual acuity, our level of awareness, and emotional reaction to what we are seeing.
I was reminded just how unique when I read Dan’s recent post about his color-blindness. Now I wonder if any of us see ‘true’ colors, or discern the same subtleties of hues, pastels and palettes when we look at something. How do we know? I haven’t a clue what colors you see and vice versa.
I’ve worn glasses or contacts since the tenth grade. Once I saw the world in high definition 20/20 rather than blurry 20/400, I never let those glasses out of my sight (no pun intended).
In hotels, I refuse to take the side of the bed without a nightstand because my glasses will be out of reach. I insisted that the nurse let me hold my glasses, through the night in the hospital, because I’d need them if I had to rush to a fire exit. I sit out fun times in the lake because I’m too scared not to be able to see the shore.
Despite my disappointment when my eye doctor told me recently my vision can no longer be corrected to 20/20, I remind myself that I’m seeing better than ever. Yes my visual acuity is deteriorating, but I am paying far more attention to what is around me – seeing light, shadows, patterns, colors, movement in ways I used to ignore.
Having to accept and adjust to changes in visual acuity reminds me of an episode when I first moved to Boulder in 1977 – a heady time for a Midwestern farm girl to be transported to a culture mix of Rocky Mountain outdoor living and Boulder earth muffin hippies. After devouring the menu of classes offered at the Community Free School, I registered for Vision Quest.
The first lecture was about how Westerners (non-Asia) interpret vision as visual acuity and strive to provide everyone with the same 20/20 corrected vision. Easterners, we were told, accept eyesight as it exists without correction, and interpret vision as what the mind and soul perceive.
Our first assignment was to take a walk and ignore visual acuity using our other senses and soul to guide us. We didn’t have to go as far as closing our eyes, but the instructor encouraged us to leave our glasses at home.
I lived north of downtown, and several miles separated me from my favorite Chautauqua Park up a steep hill at the south edge of Boulder. On a sunny, warm September afternoon, I set out on my ‘vision quest’ to walk without seeing to see what I could see. (Or something New-Age-y like that).
Although I was scared crossing streets, and somewhat intimidated that someone might be staring at me, I gained confidence with each block. The sun was warm – too hot almost – and I huffed and puffed my way up the long hill, not yet acclimated to Boulder’s altitude.
Breathless and triumphant, I reached the park entrance and headed up a familiar trail a short way before deciding to sit awhile and ‘invite vision into my soul’. I stepped off the trail, crossed my feet, bent my knees to lower myself to the ground, and sat squarely on top of a small prickly pear cactus.
So … yeah … The Vision Thing?
I find it a giant pain in the ass.