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Visions and vistas

Visions and vistas Visions and vistas

I am all for cozy blankets, familiar faces and hometowns, but sometimes it is worthwhile to break out of the confines of our comfortable environment. Often, when we seek new horizons, we gain expanded insights into our lives.
I was recently daydreaming while sitting in the welcomed sun. As I began to focus inward, I became aware of those gray floaters that roll around in our vision. Gosh! It seemed as though they had increased since I last noticed them. I began to wonder if my eyes were deteriorating and if a trip to the ophthalmologist was in order.
After a few minutes spent counting the floaters, I marveled that I could even see to get around. About that time, someone interrupted my solitude and I responded to a situation going on outside my house. What an amazing thing. I could see at a distance perfectly with no obstruction by floaters. The change in vision was caused by where I focused. Try it and see if that isn’t true.
This past month, I have viewed the thundering waves of the Pacific Ocean and the snow-capped mountains of the Rockies and squinted through the fog of San Francisco. It was a real vacation. I had started the trip distracted by thoughts of everyday chores and tight schedules. It was like peeking at the world through floaters in the space around me. Making plans for a vacation can be like that: stopping the mail, getting someone to handle commitments and securing business and home while you are away. Sometimes it feels as though the cost of preparing for those free days is too high. By the time the suitcase is packed, my mood is often not very festive.
But sitting on the shore of a body of water, looking far into the clouds from a hilltop or looking out the car window into a vast forest can cause your mind and soul to awaken to a renewed sense of opportunity and hope.
I rode a train from San Francisco to Indianapolis. It was a 2-1/2-day trip. Many of my friends had questioned the wisdom of such a long ride. So, listening to their caution, I packed things to read and paper upon which to write. I never used either one. All I did was gaze at the scenes going by the train window, visit with complete strangers and daydream. I found myself thinking of ideas beyond the confines of my own life; thinking about people, places and projects that were both new and exhilarating. Time, place and effort did not shackle my thought processes. There were no floaters in my eyes, and I began to feel the creative juices swirling in my brain.
There is something about looking off into the distance and dreaming that is good for the soul. So many things seem possible. Snow on the mountains appears enchanting, while snow back in Indiana feels like a cold burden.
I noticed that on the train many folks played on their cell phones while sitting in the observation car. They may have been thinking of things far away but were certainly losing sight of the distant views around them. I wondered if they were connected with friends or ‘apps’ in order to avoid the risk of interacting with unknown people across the aisle in the train. It is difficult to see different geography, economic conditions or human interests while texting old friends. The benefits of new opportunities can so easily be lost.
As I age, I often find myself discussing with a friend what we are able to see. ‘Can you read that sign?’ or ‘Do you see that bird’? It would appear that we are questioning whether our glasses are appropriate to our needs. But, in a broader sense, we are asking ‘Are we still in the ballpark’ with our minds and activities?
When we stare out over a broad body of water, we are prodded to ask ourselves questions that seek to understand how we are linked to the very depth and breadth of life. How do we fit into this vast and mysterious web of elements, energy and processes? We ponder the purpose of a single plant or animal, and, at the same time, the total meaning of the universe. Instead of seeing just one piece of the puzzle of life, we began to see how all the elements fit together into a greater whole.
We can’t always go on a train trip that traverses the coast or the mountain ranges in order to witness the wonders of an expansive life of action and ideas, but we can stand on a hill in Harrison County, gaze out at the Ohio River or look across a farmer’s field in the spring and become aware of a broader world spectrum. We can ask new questions of ourselves and others as we explore an expanding range of life.
Dreaming off into space is a wonderful cure for the tedium and strain of daily difficulties. There is a miraculous life beyond the floaters in our eyes.