A Sense of Awe 29 Mar 2018
Four days ago, I slipped on a new pair of sunglasses and began to see things I have literally not seen before. Two weeks before that, I was sitting in my eye doctor’s chair where I utterly failed a binocular depth perception test and was told I have a lazy eye and would need prisms in my new lenses to correct for it - and that maybe, just maybe, I could regain some of my binocular depth perception, after my brain learned to stop ignoring the output of my left eye. The prisms worked almost immediately, and I looked around me and it felt like I was in a 3D movie, having previously glided through life smoothly in 2D, not realizing there was an extra dimension that I was missing. I have always worn corrective lenses and they have given me sharp vision, but this has literally added another dimension to what I can see.
That morning, after I put on my new glasses, I spent most of the morning looking around me. The glass of water on my desk? It now “pops” and I can see, distinctly, that it is closer to me than the surface of the desk. The tree outside my window? It has become an object of unending fascination: previously, everything looked like one single mess of green leaves and brown branches which intermingled and were all in the same plane; but now, now I can see individual branches clearly, which ones are closer and which are further.
It might be hard to imagine what it’s like to not have binocular depth perception, just like it was hard for me to imagine what it is like to have it, until I did (and I am told that there is still a lot of room for my depth perception to strengthen, if my brain adjusts to the new glasses and uses my left eye even more). That’s not really the point. The point for me has been this: the world around us is filled with amazing, awe-inspiring things, and we mostly pass through it unawares.
This has been eye opening for me (pun intended), and while I am incredibly thankful for my improved vision, I am also inspired to keep hold of this sense of awe for as long as I can and try to find awe in the other little things all around us which we take for granted. This sense of awe is both uplifting to experience and inspiring to experience, because it reminds me of the beautiful nature of the world as well as the breadth of human innovation and invention, and how far we can still go. The next time I turn on a light or grab a glass of water, I’m going to keep in mind all the moving parts and all the labor needed to make that happen, and the incredible reliability with which it happens.