Friday, December 12, 2008

Magic Door

"All emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure which seizes only one side of your being as so distorts you."  
-Rainer Maria Rilke

I am sick, it is late. I have a cold and have been in bed all day with chills and a stuffed nose. Right now I have globs of Vick's Vapor Rub in my nostrils, not a pretty sight. Something happened just a few minutes ago and I have to write about it.  Sick or not.

Last Tuesday I had a new therapist.  He had a big smile on his face when he introduced himself and said something like, "I am going to make you work today!"  He wasn't kidding.

I worked on the Stereoscope machine where I wear my prism glasses and hold two pointers as I look at a photo.  The photos are always black and white and depending on the one the therapist loads into the machine, depict various scenes; a pre-global warming Mt. Kilimanjaro snuggled by layers of snow, a 1950's family having a picnic complete with Schnauzer playing in the grass.  Placed on the photo are several numbers and I am supposed to take both hands and touch the two numbers.  

It was something the therapist said during the last five minutes of this exercise that has had a strong impact on me days later and now I am sitting here with Sean having just cried my eyes out with excitement over what I am now able to do. 

He said, "Once you get the two pointers so they appear to be on the same number, I want you to REMEMBER THAT FEELING..."    Basically he was telling me that when I was able to get my eyes into alignment to stop for a second and try to recognize what it felt like to have my eyes in that position.  When the two pointers are together it means my eyes are in alignment. 

It is almost impossible to get them aligned, the sticks jump all over the place (the points of the sticks are where my two eyes are pointing and as my eyes jump, so too do the sticks), but if I do it long enough, I can usually get the sticks to be on the same number for a second or two.  It is in this moment that the therapist wanted me to remember and now I see he couldn't have said a better thing to me to get me to understand. 

I like the idea of remembering the way something feels and then trying to figure out how to get back to it by remembering the feeling.  I can imagine athletes having to do this a lot.   You don't remember it for the technique of doing it, you remember it from the feeling you got while doing it. Learning how to align my eyes by remembering how it 'feels' is the magic door that I have been searching for.   

This afternoon I suddenly felt like I was able to lift my eye up.  I don't know why it took three days or why it happened on a Friday afternoon when I was sick and not in the mood to really do anything.  I wasn't doing anything in particular, I just suddenly remembered the feeling that I tried to memorize this past Tuesday in Vision Therapy, so I went to my computer, turned on my camera and took a photo of my eyes once I got the feeling again and low and behold, MY EYES LOOKED ALMOST STRAIGHT!!!!  (PS: the feeling is a bit like doing a bench press with your pinky toe.)

I have never felt I had any control over my eyes.  I either look out of one, or the other, but never knew I could direct them anywhere. This evening I asked Sean to look at my eyes while I tried to grasp that feeling and he said, "I see you are lifting your eye up. "   

Imagine what it would feel like to have some part of your body (say an arm) lifeless for your whole life.  Not connected to any muscles in your shoulder, unable to move this body part you just drag it around with you and make do.  You never have any sense of this arm, it just always seems to be there along for the ride. Well, this is what this eye has been for me.  My sleeping eye, dead of any feeling just sitting in my head along for the ride. Well, tonight my eye came alive.  It is like suddenly I realized that I could move it. It feels like my brain and that eye have just been wired to work together for the first time in over 40 years.



  1. This is great advice: "I like the idea of remembering the way something feels and then trying to figure out how to get back to it by remembering the feeling. ... You don't remember it for the technique of doing it, you remember it from the feeling you got while doing it."

    It's good advice for vision therapy, and it's good advice for life too. Funny how that happens.

  2. Hi Stephanie!
    Thanks so much for your comment. I am just learning how to navigate this blog world, so I just saw your comment a moment ago!
    I am glad you like the blog entry. Yes, I think everything is connected... Vision Therapy becomes this weird metaphor for life!!! The trust it takes waiting for changes to happen-LIFE! The changes that do happen, happen on their own terms-LIFE! The brain being a little version of the universe...Blah Blah...
    All good!
    PS: your music list is AMAZING!


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