Last week, when my contacts were irritating me, and my glasses began hurting my nose, I decided not to wear either of them. In the moment, I didn’t realize that this choice could inspire a new perspective on my surroundings.
The world I walked through was now blended colors and blurred objects. The sounds of footsteps on pavement, roaring car engines, and squirrels munching on acorns reached my ears more than they had the day before. Even when I reached for a door handle, I had to pay more attention to actually grasping the handle and opening the door in front of me.
The world is full of sharp edges. Objects stand out against each other, their design made so that each one is unique and smooth cut. Like letters on a page, pieces of furniture on the floor of a room look different to one another, each holding their own place. However, if the page has too many words or the room gets too crowded, it can feel overwhelming. By bringing these things out of focus, the images become hushed.
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When I took out my phone while refusing to wear glasses or contacts, the letters blended together and Snapchat notifications seemed less important because I didn’t feel like putting in extra effort to read them. The world seemed to be muffled, and a little softer.
There are places where this kind of softness has been disrupted.
On Feb. 6, Turkey and Syria were hit by multiple earthquakes, and Ukraine is still in a war with Russia. Meanwhile, our country seems to be divided more and more each day with differing political agendas. It can begin to feel overwhelming, the headlines, the pictures, the moving screens that seem to cloud our minds as we scroll through social media apps like TikTok and Instagram.
One thing that holds these events together is that we look at them with our eyes. Daily events that happen without our doing can seem to build and build until we feel overwhelmed by them.
Sometimes things are out of our control. As the world around me went blurry, I found myself paying more attention to what I could hear, touch and smell. All of these things tied me to the present more than my sight had. With my vision impaired, my eyesight couldn’t lead me astray with headlines of random stories about past celebrities or who won what awards at the Grammys this year.
Oftentimes, I think people may struggle with knowing how to focus on their own timeline rather than the timeline of others. I’ve found that my place in this world can feel like it’s shrinking the more I read into others’ experiences compared to mine.
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By taking a single day to hear the breeze go through the trees, and to pay attention to conversations between two good friends, I found myself realizing that what I had been forgetting was the present moment.
There’s a popular saying that goes, “fill your cup until it overflows,” meaning one has to love oneself so much that eventually that love will overflow to those around them by accident. By recognizing where our feet are and knowing what kind of person we are, we can remember our place in this world. Then, when it's time to read the articles, watch the news and see the catastrophes millions of people face each day, our hands can reach out with more confidence in our ability to truly help.
As spring rolls around and the sun begins to shine a little more, hopefully it can be easier to feel the sunshine on your face or hear more birds chirping in the distance. As people continue with their lives, don’t forget that your feet are where they are for a reason, and so are you.
Carolyn Marshall is a sophomore majoring in media studies with a focus in TV, digital and film production, minoring in English.