‘Seeing’ can involve more than meets the eye

Roger Keeney prepares to hit a ball during a blind baseball game in Albany, Ga. Players use their sense of hearing to make up for their lack of sight. The oversized baseballs beep and the bases buzz, allowing players to identify their locations. “When they get up there and once they’ve connected with it once, for most of them, they’re hooked. It’s a rush you will never forget. Do the impossible and then nothing is impossible,” Keeney said.

Roger Keeney prepares to hit a ball during a blind baseball game in Albany, Ga. Players use their sense of hearing to make up for their lack of sight. The oversized baseballs beep and the bases buzz, allowing players to identify their locations. “When they get up there and once they’ve connected with it once, for most of them, they’re hooked. It’s a rush you will never forget. Do the impossible and then nothing is impossible,” Keeney said. AP photo by David Goldman

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People use their eyes to see the beauty that lies all around them — the blue sky, fluffy white clouds and that old crow perched on top of the spruce tree. With their eyes they see the storm clouds rolling in from the west and they see that blackened area where a recent fire swept through.

Did you know there are ways to “see” other than with your eyes? Here are a few examples of how I see what I am doing or where I am going.

I “see” with my ears. In the house I know where I am by listening to the sounds most people never pay attention to, like the ticking of the mantle clock. This clock tells me exactly where I am and which way I am facing. There is also the furnace blower as it heats — or in the summer cools — our house, giving me a sense of direction. Today a couple of parakeets are seldom quiet as they chatter in their hanging bird cage, letting me “see” exactly where they are.

You can test this theory by covering your eyes so you can’t see while standing in your front room. Next, with eyes closed or covered, turn around a few times before again standing still. Now listen as you try to find out which way you are facing. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Outside I “see” by listening to the sounds I hear, like the wind chimes I have hanging around our house. There are two special chimes hanging at the entrance to the back shed/greenhouse, directing my way. There is also the heat pump that alerts me as I work outside in the back yard.

Another way I “see” is with my hands. They find objects I drop on the floor or ground. They tell me which are the plants I want to have growing and which are weeds to pull out.

Many people use gloves when working in their yard but I use bare hands so I can “see” with them. Gloves would camouflage what I need to feel, making it more difficult to do such work. My hands also tell me what tree I am leaning against or trimming, and they identify the building, telling me I am touching the house, garage or a back shed.

I also “see” with my feet. In the house, my feet let me know where I am — whether in a bedroom or the hall — by the change of the carpet, padding beneath the carpet or hard floor. Outside, my feet tell me if I am on cement, wood, grass or garden loam. They tell me if I am walking over a wet surface or a dry surface — that is, if I am paying attention.

On walks, it is my feet that alert me that I may be walking out toward the center of the road or if I am walking near the edge of the pavement. My feet tell me when I am walking on the shoulder of the road, but where traffic cuts a corner the shoulder is packed hard and smooth, and I find it a little more difficult to know I am on the shoulder and not the pavement. My feet tell me if I am walking over a wooden bridge or along a boardwalk.

With the nose we catch the scent floating in the air as one walks by a fragrant flowering shrub or passes a barbecue cookout. With the nose we draw in the wholesome fragrance of a fresh-baked loaf of bread.

The nose can also detect as you walk past a pasture of cattle — especially in the spring after the thaw. It can also alert you to the fact that rain has recently fallen to freshen the land and clear the air.

All too often, people use only their eyesight as they walk, drive or do the daily chores. They so depend on their eyes that they miss much of the other activity that surrounds them. They don’t hear the meadowlark singing or the frogs near a stream. Their eyes are glued to the road. They find objects only by sight, and when starting down a darkened hall they find they are suddenly unable to “see” their way.

But even when using good eyesight a person will often do tasks without looking. What about working in the kitchen, maybe doing the dishes while looking out the window at the birds at the bird feeder? How many cups and plates can one wash and rinse while not even looking at what is in the hand?

So really, although most people don’t realize it, they actually do many tasks without using their eyesight.

Have a great day as you see, feel, hear, smell and touch what lies all around you.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse who retired due to vision loss, can be reached at 529-9252 or at theolcrow@charter.net.

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