June 2022 Newsletter
Hello, and a joyous June to you!
Naming and noticing
Welcome, or welcome back, to my newsletter.
Today's issue is about naming and noticing.
When a child learns language, the mother who is usually the first teacher starts simply. The mother points to herself and says "Mommy", then points
to the infant, saying "baby" or the infant's name. As the young one grows, they progress to naming toys, like "ball", or a family pet ("dog") or something out the window ("tree").
The next step is additional description, like "maple tree" or "red ball with stripes".
As the child grows in language skills, he is also learning that "you can't tell a book by its cover", that is, a surface description isn't always complete enough.
Some big black dogs are friendly, while some are growling and scary. Though 2 friends each live in a white house, the inside of their houses may be very different.
Ideally, while the young one is increasing his vocabulary and powers of description so he can communicate clearly, he is also continuing to notice details.
As a child myself, I was enchanted by words and books, though not very connected to the world right in front of me, especially once I started school. I preferred
reading to talking with people. With words on a page (since there were no computers yet) I could create my own world inside my head and look at that to my heart's content.
However this didn't teach me how to keep noticing an actual scene with my human eyes. In fact, my stronger and stronger glasses seemed to discourage looking. I learned to grab at an
image ("Oh, that's a willow tree") then scan over it mentally from memory, thinking I had absorbed everything there was to see.
The eye chart is a wonderful tool for learning to notice and decipher details. When I started using it consistently, it was uncomfortable because I realized I needed to keep looking
gently at the letters or spaces to practice interpreting those images correctly. My well-honed pattern was to glance, then look at my mental image, not at the chart itself. Of course
the chart was not changing like a live scene would be, so I wasn't in danger of missing something, which often happened when I was out in the world, when I wasn't looking much. It's fine
to close my eyes when practicing with the chart, then I need to open them again and connect that actual chart image to my mental image.
The connection between an image or scene out in front of our eyes, and the one we form in our brain to interpret the scene, creates the magic of human vision. This "secret sauce"
is formed from keeping our energy easily connected to what we see. If we don't really want to take in that view or engage with that person, our nervous system feels like backing away, not continuing
to participate. Yes, there are unpleasant pictures out there at times, and we can look elsewhere or move away, choosing to give our visual system something more satisfying to view instead.
Like the Dali Lama says, we want to move toward Life, not retreat from it. For the more timid of us, or those who have been deeply hurt or wounded, this may feel like opening ourselves up
to even more pain. Not a good idea! Let your eyes find joyful beautiful things to look at, maybe flowers or colorful Nature scenes, or happy children. Don't stop at naming what you see,
as labels can limit. Really notice, continuing to explore the details and savor them. The more you look, the more you'll see!
To read something else about connecting to what you're looking at,
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Enjoy the start of this juicy month of June.
I'll write again in a few weeks. Take care!