Monday, March 26, 2012

I SPOT EYE SPOTS – The Small Wonder of Floaters

Most people assume Nature exists somewhere between arm's length and the horizon. Isn't that where we're accustomed to pointing our curiosity, to finding beauty and wonder?

But that assumption's not necessarily true; I have to keep reminding myself that Nature’s never any farther away than my own skin. For there, on me and in me, resides a whole other world of small wonders, just waiting to be discovered.

One of these little, inner wonders in particular has always fascinated me. Not for
its size or speed or any elegant design, but because to find it you have to close
your eyes.

It fascinates me, not for its size or speed or any elegant design, but because to find it you have to close your eyes.

Just the other day I was out sitting on the deck, enjoying the very early spring that's sprung here in Minnesota. I was facing right into the sun, and even though my eyes were shut I was struck by how much there was to see.

My field of vision was flooded in bright, fiery red-orange, the result of that powerful light penetrating my translucent, blood-laced eyelids. Every so often a cloud would drift across the sun, muting the glow to a sumptuous deep burgundy.


Against this dramatic backdrop, one of the human body’s most arcane little quirks stood out like bugs on a TV screen: floaters. Floaters are actually shadows cast on the retina (the eye’s light receptor) by tiny clumps of cells or of the gel inside the vitreous, the clear jelly-like substance that fills the eye.

Nature’s never any farther away than our own skin.

Floaters look like tiny organic shapes dangled here and there in front of your eyes (if your eyes were open, that is). Mine look like little bits of thread or lint. They’re there all the time, whether your eyes are open or shut. When they're open, though, your vista's usually so filled with a busy pattern of other stuff that you don’t notice them.


Once I notice my floaters, a little game ensues. I pick out the biggest, most complex one and try to look right at it. Trouble is, it’s located a few degrees off of center, just to the left of where I’m looking.

Try as I might to look right at it, the moment my eye moves so does the floater, staying always slightly peripheral. Like a young Mohammed Ali, it glides back and forth at will, just beyond the reach of its hapless opponent's best jab.

This is made all the more maddening by the slight lag time between when I move my gaze and when the shape follows! I imagine it being on an elastic leash. When I tug, at first it doesn’t move; it only stretches the leash. Then, a fraction of a second later, the energy transfers to the object, which then slides greasily—alas, not to where I want it, but again just to the left.

How ironic that the only way you can stop looking at something is by opening your eyes!

I always tire of this losing game after a few minutes. I open my eyes and try ignoring the floaters. This is easier said than done. What would happen, I imagine, if I couldn't stop seeing them? I'm thinking this could drive a person nuts! Fortunately, it never takes me long to tune them out.

Still, how ironic—some might say demonic—that the only way you can stop looking at something is by opening your eyes!


Do you have floaters? Let the rest of us know what that's like for you. Do you rue the day you first noticed them, or have you found ways to make peace with them—perhaps even celebrate them? 

We'd love to hear from you!


Anonymous said...

I didn't even know floaters existed, and now I find I have them! What have you done to me? ;-)

Anonymous said...

This was really interesting Jeffery because I too sometimes notice floaters in my eyes. But I am seeing it now from a new angle. In my universe, whatever gets my attention is an invitation for resolution and completion, returning one's attention to this moment thereby releasing the tension or the bubble that attracts one in the first place. This then is why what we like we investigate. The goal of what we like then is to love it and carry its spirit with us by surrendering to it or letting go of it. The attraction of likeness is then transcended.

So anyway, to clear the floaters, one merely as you suggest, opens their eyes to what speaks to them which is what has your attention. So for the dark spots or shadows or anomalies to be addressed, one merely puts one's honest attention to the accumulated tension or to the floaters. One then loves or accepts that which is presented. By connecting with the spots, let the spots speak to you and give you images or let it tell you a story. When you receive the message to heart, then tension then dissolves and the dark spots will then become alleviated.

Thanks for your email my friend. I will be sure to visit again soon.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Bernie! I'm with you -- at this point in my life it's less about "alleviating" things than about accepting them, allowing them to just be without seeing it as pain, annoyance...whatever.
You're a wise (and talented) man. Great shot of the white-tail in your post today!!

Davidlind said...

I can remember as a young teen trying to look at these floaters and realizing they would always elude me. I put them in a category with girls and went about my business. Later I discovered that it was more profitable looking at clouds and making them disappear. It seemed in some way my consciousness was inside the cloud. Is this an example of us being in nature? Maybe.

Anonymous said...

From my vantage point, everything is connected, and so we are a part of nature. By finding our true nature, we re-enter the web of life. However, the mind prevents us from doing so by the thoughts we put into it. The collective says we are not a part of nature or that we are a visitor in Nature and the web then begins to unravel. Pollution and toxins then enter the human and within Nature because of our exclusion from what is Natural. Therefore, Yes you are the clouds when your Heart is In It. Whatever you honestly place your attention upon anything, you return to what is True and Natural.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hey David - Your reference to the elusiveness of girls when you were young made me smile.
Are you serious about the cloud control? Seems to me I've either talked w/you about this or read about it before.
I'm not sure what it would be about one's presence with Nature that would actually change what Nature was going to do anyway -- what do you think?

Jeffrey Willius said...

Bernie - I'm with you as far as us being a part of everything we let ourselves be part of -- including clouds -- but I guess I still have trouble with David's suggestion that that makes it possible for us to change Nature in any way.
BTW do you and David know each other?

Anonymous said...

Its kind of like saying if one is not a part of the system or nature, then they can't change it. One then succumbs to fate and is then thrown around by the turbulence of the mind which then creates the feeling or experience of being separated from nature and one's own inner dream and therefore our personal nature. However, when one lives from the inside out and doesn't get locked up by what the mind says we are experiencing in the outside world, one then puts their energy into their dream and therefore their destiny thereby transcending the repetitive state and fate dictated by the beliefs lodged in the mind. Therefore, when one begins living their dream, the dream seamlessly connects to all the outer dreams and becomes incorpated into the dreams held within nature. Through this open state, we then feel that which nature feels by placing our attention honestly upon our subject. That which is natural and unguarded then feels what we are feelings, and we being open because we are living our dream transfers what we feel to that which we are connected to. An exchange of feelings happens. This then adds to nature and it evolves. It changes then in response to how we feel about it by accepting the feelings and the offerings we transmit into our environment. Therefore, we mold nature with our thoughts and are molded by nature when we let nature in to transform us.

No I haven't met David before. Hi David... keep on dispersing the clouds of the mind to accept the vast openness of the sky where infinite potential resides.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Wow Bernie -- Sounds like you've put a lot of thought into this! I'll be interested to hear what you think of a post I'm working on about God and Nature.

spldbch said...

So do we all have floaters? I kind of want to remember to "look" for them now that I've read this post. On the other hand, I'm also afraid to. I tend to get hung up on things like that. For example, when I pay attention to my breathing to relax or to quiet my mind, I sometimes find I can't STOP paying attention to my breathing when I'm ready to go about the rest of my day.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hi spldbch -- I don't think everyone has floaters. If you don't want another little thing to compete for your attention, they won't mind if you ignore them!
I think it's pretty cool that you keep being aware of your breathing -- isn't that a good thing?

Siti Nur Banin said...

God, I have this :(

Jeffrey Willius said...

Mas Siti -- Thank you so much for visiting One Man's Wonder, and for commenting!
Do you think of your floaters as demons or are you able to see them with child-like wonder? I hope you can mostly just ignore them :-)
I like your website - wish I could understand your language - and hope you drop in here again!

Unknown said...

I found you accidentally while chasing links. I am an SPA alum and have been a floater fan for years. For floater info, consult Wikipedia (of course). To see them best, you focus up close and look straight ahead, keeping your eyeballs still as possible. It helps to put a piece of plain white paper on the tip of your nose and focus on it. Face a diffuse light. Look straight ahead. Be patient. Floaters are shy.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Dear Unknown - How nice to hear from a fellow floater aficionado AND fellow SPArtan!
I guess for some folks seeing their floaters is a bit like probing one of those "Magic Eye" stereograms where you have to focus at some imaginary depth for the 3-D object to materialize.
I'm glad you've come to know & love yours (and that they don't drive you nuts).
Hope you'll come back now and then and comment again

Unknown said...

I have them too, and the best way to deal with it i think, is to remember that are people in situations way more complicated then mine. Life is a miracle so just be happy to have the opportunity to wake up and breath every day. Enjoy the time you spend here, its not much so dont boder about little spots on your vision,

Jeffrey Willius said...

I love your attitude, João! I'll try not to let my eye spots bother me and keep seeing them as just another of lifes small wonders. Thanks for your comment!!

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