Tom’s World — Tom Westfall
The “eyes” have it…or do they?
Nearly a decade ago, I was fishing with my brother and my son in a small mountain stream over near Gunnison. My brother and I are great friends, but we’ve always been competitive when it came to fishing (I think he owes me something like a million dollars regarding fish bets!) On that particular day I announced that I wasn’t going to compete to see who could catch the most fish — I was just there for fun and to prove it, I announced that I wasn’t going to use my traditional fish catching lure, but rather would eschew that and would try a wide variety of lures that “really shouldn’t catch fish.”
Needless to say, on that particular day I could have thrown the kitchen sink at those fish and they would have responded with a bite. The sillier the lure, the more fish I caught; it became laughable. Late in the afternoon I found a lure in the creek — basically just a chunk of iron with a slight twist to it. I showed it to the fellows and said I was now going to proceed to catch fish on this unlikely looking offering. The first three casts I caught nice Brown trout. As we glanced upstream a huge Brown trout rolled the surface, and because there was a branch hanging out over the water, my brother suggested he probably couldn’t get his fly in there and that I should go ahead and cast.
I took my sunglasses off (still don’t know whether that was the right thing or the wrong thing to do) and proceeded to execute the perfect cast; almost. The lure wrapped the branch. Normally I would just have given the branch a tug and the lure would have come free, the spinner blade feathering the ride back towards my head. Unfortunately when I gave said tug, the lure (just a solid chunk of metal) propelled back towards me with the speed of…light? Perhaps because the next thing I knew I was on my back in the river, said lure having struck me in the left eye with great velocity.
As I struggled to my feet, my brother and son (both of whom are doctors) looked at me and went (in unison) “oooh, that’s terrible.” Now you know that when the ultimate “pair a docs” describes an injury as terrible, you’re in trouble. I lost vision in the eye, blood leaking out, eye pressures rising; pain level increasing.
To make matters worse, there was not an ophthalmologist available in Gunnison and by the time we found a doctor in Denver, I was in bad shape. Essentially, I tore the sphincter muscle in my eye (bet you didn’t know we had one there as well!) so that the pupil in that eye is permanently dilated, making me very light sensitive as well as rendering the eye virtually useless (20/200 vision — the world is a blur.)
That’s a long way to go to make the point of this missive — that being that most of us suffer with some type of “perception disorder.” As human beings we strive for cognitive resonance which means that we want the world (we see the world) to be the way we believe the world is. We tend to view things through the lens of our beliefs, often times without any sort of consideration for a different point of view.
Think for a moment about the news channel you watch. Many people will indicate Fox News or CNN or MSNBC, but when you dig a little deeper and ask if they view multiple channels to insure a broader picture, for most the answer is “No.” And while there’s nothing wrong with having a favorite news channel, trying to learn things from multiple perspectives may enhance ones overall perceptivity.
If we only read the newspapers that support our opinions, listen to the talk shows that bolster our beliefs, and associate with like-minded people, it is likely that our visual acuity relative to the bigger picture of the world will become truncated — you’ve all heard the expression “tunnel vision.”
Ever since my injury, I’ve had to learn a new way of experiencing my visual world. Although my right eye compensates for the left, I still have to be aware that I have a blank spot in my visual field. I have to be more cautious. I have to examine things more closely before venturing forth. I have very poor depth perception. I have to turn my head from left to right (or right to left) more frequently to take in the complete picture.
A cure for myopic (or distorted) vision, metaphorically speaking may be doing something similar. I’d love to have my “perfect vision” back, but that isn’t going to happen. I’ve learned an important lesson about perspective due to this unfortunate “gift.”