Peripheral Vision

I visit my eye doctor every year. I’m good like that. And without exception, each year my optometrist checks to see if I have pressure building in my eye. The tech evaluates my ability to see colors, even though I’ve been colorblind from birth. They also run tests on my depth perception and my peripheral vision, and it’s this last one that I really enjoy.

Peripheral vision is a very good thing. People who have excellent peripheral vision can see further to the right and left. The Big Bang Theory character Sheldon, who is played brilliantly by Jim Parsons, proclaimed that when his peripheral vision was really at it’s peak, he could see his own ears! That’s some impressive visual gymnastics!

I discovered recently that through regular exercises, we can increase the range of our peripheral vision! We don’t have to live in a tunnel vision world!¬†Yet, so many of us live singularly focused each and every day of our life. We only see what is immediately in front of us. Or worse, we only look one direction, either fully to the left or fully to the right.

Of course, you know that I’m using peripheral vision as a metaphor for the political, religious, and ideological horizon, right? But wasn’t that a fun trip down ocular lane?

Here’s the rub: When we only look to the far right, we miss those things that have meaning on the left, even if it’s just a little left of center. The same is true when our gaze fixes only on the far left. There are some good things we could witness on our right side. Extending our vision to the periphery means we can look BOTH directions to get a better view of the world around us.

One more rub: Some people who suffer strokes experience vision loss on one side or another. It’s called Homonymous Hemianopsia. The condition can cause someone driving a car to be completely unaware that they are mowing down mailboxes all along the road they travel, or worse! (True story.) A damaged brain may be the only valid excuse for failure to see what is right beside you.

Keep on rubbing: Peripheral vision is the ability to see out the side of our eyes. We’re able to catch small movements without looking one way or the other. So, if you have limited range of motion with your eyeballs, there’s good news for you! God gave you a neck!! And in the words of the wise and wonderful Mike Miller, attorney at law, “Keep your head on a swivel.” Turn your head right or left. Take in the view. Expand your understanding about what is around you!

We don’t have to be singularly focused. We have the option to look at the entire world and all it has to offer. We aren’t required to engage with every object, person, perspective and viewpoint, but we can at least acknowledge its existence.

Even with practice, you may never be able to see your own ears, but at the very minimum, you can expand your view.

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