Monday, March 19, 2007

Life in 3-D

For a very long time I had two eyes but very little depth perception. One eye was significantly stronger than the other and so did most of the work. A very perceptive optometrist figured it out one day, and for the past six or seven years I have seen the world with the depth it "really" has, or at least in the manner that most two-eyed creatures perceive it. It's a profound change, one that not only explains (in part) why I was not a great athlete in my youth - hard to "see the ball" when you're only engaging half of your vision - but also makes a great analogy for life itself.

After a lifetime of not working together, my eyes sometimes fall back on old habits, despite the glasses designed to nudge them into cooperative action. Such was the case yesterday, when I looked up on a hill and saw two houses, one that I knew intellectually was situated higher on the hill and several hundred feet behind the other. The image that reached my brain essentially put the higher house on top of the forward house, and I knew that was wrong.

I had to focus my attention on my eyes and concentrate on putting one house in front of the other. Even then, it was a bit of a chore. I did experience the instant delight of watching my immediate surroundings burst into sharp relief: It's hard to explain to someone who has always seen in three dimensions, but there's a breathtaking moment when the forest becomes a swarm of individual trees that are not only side-by-side but in front of and behind each other, and the spaces between them open up.

This time, though, despite the beauty immediately surrounding me, those two houses a half-mile away stayed plastered one on top of the other. It was only a few minutes later, when I stopped thinking so hard and glanced back up the hill, that the proper space between the houses opened up in my mind and I could see with my eyes what I knew intellectually.

Sometimes, even when the correctional lenses have been put into place and you understand with new vision, you fall back into the old comfort zone and the old habits and perceive things the old way. It takes a concerted mental effort to brush away the cobwebs and force yourself to see reality as it is again. Once you've seen what it is you were missing, it's easier to recognize when you're not seeing reality fully, but not necessarily easy to orient your brain back to the right place. The old habits are deeply ingrained, but shedding them is a good thing.

The familiar writers I have been visiting regularly in the blogosphere seem to be dealing with shakeups in their perception - personal challenges, old friends disappointing them, new endeavors, whatever. I perceive some shifting going on; perhaps it's something as simple and organic as the coming of spring and our resident impatience with a late-starting but now-lingering winter. Or perhaps it's the strain of getting out of two-dimensional vision knowing there's a rich and beautiful third dimension out there.

It's not always easy for me to recognize when my eyes have fallen into their old habits - but oh, the rewards when I remind them to see the depth. If you've been struggling recently, I hope this little nudge helps you to reorient your vision.


Anonymous sunni said...

Thanks very much. And lots of virtual squeezes.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous lewlew said...

Beautifully written thoughts to ponder.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Kirsten said...

Thank you.

2:40 AM  

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