Cross-eyed and Painless

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Lost my shape-Trying to act casual!
Can’t stop-I might end up in the hospital
I’m changing my shape-I feel like an accident
They’re back!-To explain their experience.
~Talking Heads (Crosseyed and Painless)
I hear them long before I see their forms cutting across the steely-gray of a early morning coastal sky. Their soprano-like cries, high-pitched and melodic in their own way, seem to echo off stratus clouds hanging down nearly to the ground. I stare at the place where I think I hear the sounds coming from but as I gaze westward all I see is a uniformly gray sky; a color so gray that it is almost blue. I relax, allowing my eyes to wander and I see them, hundreds of them. They appear as long black lines, some in Vs and others in scattering groups. They appear out of the nothingness much like an image in a Magic Eye poster. The geese, Aleutian cackling geese, fly northward away from Humboldt Bay, perhaps on their way to their namesake islands which arc their way between the Alaska and Kamchatka peninsulas or they are simply heading to the agriculture fields of the Mad River bottoms where they will spend their day foraging.

Have you ever stared at one of those Magic Eye posters wanting so desperately to see what others have seen but seeing nothing but your frustration welling up inside? I have found them terrifically exasperating. In order to see the image in one of those posters and to see the geese this morning I had to diverge my eyes. That means to simultaneously move both eyes outward. I had to go wall-eyed. This can also be done by going cross-eyed.  Seeing the geese amidst the autostereogram (the technical term for the Magic Eye) of the sky teaches me an important lesson. My life too is an autostereogram of sorts.  As I try to figure it out; what it contains and what is the next right path for me, I encounter optical illusion and distorted images at every turn. But by refocusing, going wall-eyed or cross-eyed if you will, I begin to gain the depth perception that is necessary for seeing the hidden image. Like the image popping out from the randomness of dots on a poster, my life’s path can then come forth in 3-D, clear and obvious. Depth perception arises from looking at things differently which comes with practice. That and connecting with others, particularly those who seem different from us, which is itself a type of practice. Life experience can also give this to us but life can also harden us into rigidity resulting in seeing only what we have seen before and what we want to see.  For me international travel, children and zen meditation, among other experiences, have done this for me. In this way we can refocus and see reality for what it is, not simply for what we already think it is.

I get on my bike and wave goodbye to my daughters and wife. As I pedal down the road on my way to work, I quickly become enmeshed in my thoughts. As cars pass by, mostly at safe speeds, my eye gets caught by something blue on the rear of a small SUV.  A small blue bumper sticker with a reminder that is more profound than its humble size: “Don’t believe everything you think”. I carry that reminder with me for the rest of the day. When it comes to me, I soften my gaze a bit and practice divergence. The perceptual world goes fuzzy, blurs and in that moment all I can think of is, “I hope my boss doesn’t catch me staring cross-eyed at my computer screen.” Then again, that sort of is what computers do to me!

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2 Comments on “Cross-eyed and Painless”

  1. Julie says:

    I used to have that bumper sticker on my car….its like we have to go behind the curtains of perceptions to really see. Beyond our filters, and kind of leap….very well done Daoud!

  2. dhlafever says:

    Yeah it was your bumper sticker that I was referencing in the blog post. Thanks for the inspiration! And I love what you said about going beyond the curtains, or doors, of perceptions. Aldous Huxley wrote a book titled “The Doors of Perception” which was the inspiration for the band The Doors.

    Happy Leaping!

    Dave


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