My Life in Words
I just held the palms of my hands over both eyes while thinking of a time when I walked through our cherry orchard to an open field to where my horse was tethered on a chain long enough for him to graze a fifty-foot circle.
He whinnied in greeting, I unclipped the chain and climbed aboard. Together we galloped back through the cherry orchard up to the house for water, and an evening together.
Sitting here now, I was following a suggestion offered by The Bates Method of vision training. That is to rub your palms together, cup them over your eyes and think of something pleasant.
The idea is to relax the eyes.
I mentioned The Bates method on my January 25, 2019, blog after I stumbled upon Aldous Huxley’s book The Art of Seeing, and read:
“Suppose crippled eyes could be transformed into crippled legs,” Huxley quoted Mathew Luckiesh, Director of General Electric’s Lighting Research laboratory. “What a heart-rendering parade we would witness on a busy street. Nearly every other person would go limping by. Many would be on crutches and some on wheelchairs.”
Huxley states that when legs are imperfect, the medical profession makes every effort to get the patient walking again, and without crutches if at all possible. “Why should it not be possible to do something analogous for defective eyes?”
Well, look who’s talking. I wear glasses, and I took the Bates method of vision training.
That was 30 years ago. (A time when that Phone Book print became minuscule and blurry.)
At the end of my training, my vision tested 20/20, and I could read the phone book.
A testament to the training was that during my training, while sitting in a dimly-lighted restaurant, I was the only one, of six people present, who could read the menu.
Many of the students who were taking the training the same time I did—although the training was one on one–used as a goal the passing the DMV’s Driver’s License eye test without glasses.
Now I wear glasses, a must to read and to view the computer screen.
Some could say it’s aging.
I say I’ve been negligent.
I wonder, too, since the eye is an extension of the brain—reaching right out there via the optic nerve, how that differs from let’s say our legs. Do the eyes have a more brain/eye influence?
My Naturopath told me that my brain doesn’t care if my legs fall off. It’s concerned about itself, the brain and the heart. I guess it has its priorities in order.
I googled the Bates method, and what did I find? Dr. Christiane Northrup right there on YouTube touting the Bates Method.
Northrup’s book is Women’s Minds, Woman’s Bodies. What a woman. An OBGYN of enormous grace, wit, and wisdom who isn’t afraid to talk of Intuition, angels, the loving God within, that aging is a matter of the mind, and that you can help your vision with exercises. She has worn contacts since the age of 16, still does, however, her vision has not deteriorated.
Northrup speaks of epigenetics, how the environment, thoughts, affect our genes.
Remember how we were taught that genes are compact little gems that gather together to make us. We considered them unalterable and unchangeable—not now.
“Remember, you are in the driver’s seat of your health and you can make a profound change.”–Dr. Christiane Northrup
Northrup told of a study on two groups ages 80 plus. After testing their vitals, hearing eyesight and such, they were told to go to a quiet place, like a monastery, and pretend they were living in the 1950s. They were to speak as though they were living then and to watch TV and films at that time. At the end of the study, all their vitals were better, and they looked 10 years younger, while the test group who went on, as usual, showed no change.
You know how easy it is to take a pill for some disorder, or go to the optometrist for a prescription for glasses, slap them on, and to go on our merry way?
I’m not saying don’t to go to the optometrist, indeed, go. Get a diagnosis, and don’t throw away your glasses until it is possible to see well without them. Maybe that will never happen but wouldn’t it be great if our eyesight never got worse?
A few things I remember from my Bates training which will not change the basic structure of the eye—unless it does with relaxations strengthening the muscles, those sorts of things. Oh, yes, and sunning the eyes—that may be controversial, for DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. The idea is to close one eye, look down so that the pupil is below your eyelid, hold the eyelid up with your hand and allow the sun to shine on the white of your eye.
All those exercises seemed to have little change on my vision until she brought in some cards where she could slide the cards apart or together, as I focused on them. It seemed that I was crossing my eyes, but it taught me how it felt to have my eyes come into alignment. A bio-feedback sort of arrangement.
One of the most amazing experiences related to that training was that one day while looking at a magazine picture it looked three-dimensional. I knew it was a two dimensional, picture on a page, but I clearly saw depth between the images.
A friend’s little boy in Riverside California had some eye condition, I think his eyes weren’t converging properly. The treatment although not the Bates Method, was for him to jump on a trampoline behind a wall just high enough so that when he jumped he could see over the wall. Something on the wall behind the low wall gave him a focal point. That treatment must have worked to correct his vision, for he didn’t wear glasses and went on to become a professor so I would say he could read.
In the preface to the book, The Art of Seeing, Huxley describes how, at the age of sixteen, he had a violent attack of keratitis punctat which made him nearly blind for eighteen months and left him thereafter with severely impaired sight. He managed to live as a sighted person with the aid of strong spectacles, but reading, in particular, was a great strain. In 1939 his ability to read became increasingly worse, and he sought the help of Margaret Corbett, who was a teacher of the Bates method. He found this immensely helpful, and wrote: “At the present time, my vision, though very far from normal, is about twice as good as it used to be when I wore spectacles, and before I had learned the art of seeing.”
The book is rather spendy $21-$36 dollars, but you can find it for free online at:
Art by Dr. Seuss--they soon forgot who had a star on their belly and who didn't.
Let’s begin at the beginning.
Before I met my woman of the day, I ran the gamut of Books, Publishers, and Journals at the AWP (American Writers and Publishers Conference and Book fair) located in Portland Oregon.
I wanted to meet my publisher so I preregistered for the conference, and come Thursday morning I got my butt out of bed, and into the car and drove the hour and a half to Portland—that with two stops took three hours.
When I got to the Regal Publishing table the number of which had been sent to me, she was not there.
She was busy getting a book out and sent her cohorts instead.
She was on the East Coast, I was in the West.
Oh well, no problem, I was here for some reason and happy that she is so conscientious and on target in getting her books out—mine will be happening in May. I love that woman.
And then I saw something that lightened my heart and gave me a good chuckle. A creative soul had tacked a huge sign behind their booth. “Come share your meniscus injury with us.”
Until a few months ago, I wouldn’t have known what a meniscus was. When mine folded over and tore into bits it gave me a good reason to learn about it. The meniscus is the cartilage pad in the joint of the knee.
The publisher said a meniscus tear is common in writers.
Maybe we sit too long at a computer, abruptly stand, and whamo, a crunch. I don’t know what causes that cartilage to slip from its joint, sometimes it’s an athletic injury, sometimes age, sometimes arthritis, maybe a lightning bolt from the sky.
Whatever their cause, their sign got my attention.
Another vendor said to give them a magic act—I don’t remember what they would pay in return. (I'm sure it wasn't a publishing contract.)
As I walked the aisles of AWP where writers displayed their books, publishers advertised themselves, one thing surprised me—that Universities were promoting their journals and their MFA programs. (Masters of Fine Arts in Writing.)
MFA’s were another thing I didn’t know about until recently when I read an article titled, “Will an MFA get you published?’
The answer: Not necessarily, but it will make you $19,000 to $48,000 poorer.
That rather colored my decision not to stay for the keynote address that night, as it was sponsored by the Oregon State University’s MFA in Creative Writing.
The speaker might have been wonderful. But I’m sure he wasn’t a Bill Clinton.
You see I attended such a Book Fair the year Bill Clinton’s book, My Life, came out. And that masterful speaker gave the keynote address. He spoke about writing his book, and was motivational. I remember him saying that his publisher admonished him, “Bill, you don’t have to mention every person you have ever met in your book.”
Okay, back to the AWP floor:
I walked along dousing the people and the vendors. You know what I mean by dousing, you are attracted to this one, that one, to certain people, not so much with others. I was drawn to a live-wire beautiful young woman promoting her book, To Black Parents Visiting Earth.
I so believed in (author) Janet Stickmon’s, premise, “If black parents from outer space visited earth what advice would she give them?” I bought her book on the spot.
When my legs felt like rubber from all the walking I sat and began to read her book. When I read this, “To Black parents planning to visit Earth, it is not safe for you to come here. Now now.” My heart sank, I wanted to go back, find her booth, hug her and ask if she felt safe.”
Alas, I missed my chance, so I will write to her, and write a good review on Amazon.
I have said, that if I were Black I would be afraid to walk down the street by myself, and here was a woman affirming my fears.
She told the story of her husband seeing a little black boy about twelve get his face slammed to the ground when his skateboard slipped from beneath him and hit the rear passenger tire of a police car. Her husband went over to the officers attempting to explain that it was an accident. One officer asked, if he, “wanted some,” and unbuttoned the holster to his pistol. Luckily two more officers approached, and one knew her husband. All ended well for her husband and the boy.
Except that night, she, her husband, and little daughter stood in their home holding each other and crying thankful that Daddy was still alive.
I want to quote her for she is an astounding woman.
“I want Baby girl—my firecracker, my spark plug” wrote Stickmon, “to continue being the compassionate, talkative ,quick-witted, feisty, funny, smart child that she’s always been. Thought we’re not experts. I think my husband and I are doing a great job making this happen, especially considering all we’ve exposed her to, all the conversations we’ve had, and all the laughs we’ve shared.
“But I must admit that I’m tired. Molding counterhegemonic armour for a 6-year-old child, making sure it is small and light enough for her to wear, is some kind of sick, warped task Black parents perform daily without exploding. Meanwhile, the white world remains clueless about how our time is spent. There are many hours in my day when I resent the burden of this task. But I will continue to do it for my daughter’s protection, especially if it means my work will preserve her silly laugh and bright eyes.”
And then OMG I was hit again with her fears. She explained that with the Obama administration she felt that great strides had been taken, and she enumerates them, but when Trump was elected she felt betrayed like a slap in the face.
But more than she feared Trump, she feared his supporters. People that had been hating silently were now given permission to hate publicly.
She wondered why her tax dollars should go to a country that allows a sexist, Islamophobic, KKK-endorsed raciest, one who wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico to stop illegal immigration, who thinks climate change is a hoax made up by the Chinese, to become president of the United States.
The Dr. Seuss's characters are from the book The Sneeches, where the Sneeches with stars on the bellies thought they were the best Sneeches on the beaches, but soon an enterprising entrepreneur put stars of the bellies of the ones without. Then the ones with stars had them removed. Soon nobody knew who started with stars and who ended with them. The entrepreneur left with their money, and The Sneeches got it, that it made no difference whether they had stars on their bellies or not.
Her travels had taken her beyond the shores of her native continent, but she is back where she started, in Oregon.