Using My Eyes as They Were Intended
My little one is finally napping and once I settle into the over-sized chairs at the kitchen table I look up from my computer and out the large picture window overlooking Lake George. We are staying at my in-laws perched high on the hillside above various deciduous trees and a few very tall evergreens before the land slopes to the lake below. There are a few sailboats, a few motorboats, and several cottages dappled along the curving lakeshores. On the other side, the hills appear green, navy, almost periwinkle as the clouds cast huge shadows onto the ground below--giving the hills depth and distinction while creating enormous misshapen polka dots of missing light.
When I was working in my last office job, before I had my son in fall 2011, I started to experience this mild but persistent discomfort in my eyes. As I paid closer attention I noticed that it happened more frequently towards the end of the day than the beginning. When I went to see an optometrist I was surprised to learn that I did not need glasses. But instead, my eyes were just very tired. I asked if this was a result of my computer work and he confidently responded, "Absolutely".
He went on to deliver this beautiful monologue about how our eyes were intended to look at the edge of the forest and then back to the trees before us. That I was not, metaphorically, looking at the edge of the forest enough but was instead just staring endlessly at the tree before me. I didn't leave with a prescription for glasses but instead with a mandate to get up from my computer every hour and every 20 minutes I should look to the far side of the room. I knew his diagnosis was more symbolic than I wanted to admit but, at the time, I happily returned to my office life knowing my eyes were still healthy.
Fast-forwarded two years and many life changes later and it's still a challenge to pull my metaphorical gaze to the horizon. Mothering a newborn, infant, and then toddler does not allow for many moments of gazing out the window unless, of course, looking for the train car that has just been tossed over the ledge and hopefully did not injure anyone before crashing to the sidewalk. Nap times, bed times, and limited daycare hours are preciously used on my work deadlines or studio projects or anything else that needs tending--save a spotless house and an empty laundry hamper for that even sparer moment that I still haven't discovered.
But I do think that's mostly what this trip is about. It's about shifting my gaze. Looking at what is right before me, just a few inches or a few feet away, and then looking out at the horizon. Pulling my head up away from my studio desk and impending deadlines and the accompanying freelance and new mama worries. Traveling far away from our daily routine and having the chance to see everything new again.
Looking out at the horizon and using my eyes "as they were intended". Looking to the far edges of the lake where a motorboat skims the surface and leaves a white rippled trail in its wake. Two white trails, if I look closely, that drift farther and farther apart as they grow farther away from the rudder.
I can't say that I know exactly what impact this "far-reaching gaze" will have on my daily life once we've returned to our apartment in California. But I can say that the shift in perspective will allow for new thoughts, new dreams, new priorities to emerge. If nothing else, it will have given my eyes a rest from all that myopic looking and thinking. So, I'll see you here next week, my friends. In the meantime, I hope you can take a minute to look for the edge of the forest.