Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

Lake Michigan, horizon

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Marsha Benshir, a leader in neuro-optometric rehabilitation and development. She told me something I will never forget: “Vision is the route through which we touch the mind. It is the process of deriving meaning from what is seen.”

She explained that a patient could look at their own hand, a hundred, a thousand times… but if they do not have meaning associated with it, they are unable to recognize it as their own, and therefore, are unaware of the beautiful things they are capable of.

My apartment. Finding meaning in growth even on the gloomy days.

As I sit here and reflect, two weeks away from becoming a third-year student, I cannot believe how much time has passed. Of the many things I have mastered in second year, there is still something I am always working to perfect: finding beauty and meaning in the things I do and look at every single day.

I am constantly graced by the presence of beauty. It shines from the minds who surround me in lecture, in the sunrise and sunset that greets and closes each day, and in the smiles of the ones I love. I may see one thousand sunrises, but may never be aware that it is the gift of a new day, if I do not associate meaning to what I see.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life we tend to take things for granted. After a stressful test, practical and clinic shift, it is easy to get caught up in the negative aspects of the day and lose sight of the meaning of it all.

Shadows. Finding meaning in the warmth of the sun, after an what seems like an eternal winter.

For those of you have tried and failed to find this so-called beauty and meaning in your everyday life, give it another chance. It finds me at the most unexpected times. Sometimes, it is not the task of finding it yourself, but uncovering what is already found, sitting right in front of you.

Take time to go outside- rain or shine. Do something you love to do, whether it’s writing, drawing, singing or spending time with the people you love. If you are on campus each day, find a new study nook and embrace the change. Pull inspiration and meaning from others in clinic. Attending doctors always have background stories or interesting cases they can share with you. Watch their faces light up about the area of optometry they are passionate about.

Find one new thing each day in your daily routine. This could be a photograph hanging in the hallway at ICO, a stranger smiling at you on the bus to school, a flower growing outside your apartment, or how full the moon is once the sun sets. Take the time to notice these subtleties, and you will begin to find clarity.

Navy Pier. Finding meaning in perspective.

What is beautiful and meaningful to one may not appeal to another. The process of connecting the visual world with the neurologic world is individualized, and is a form of beauty itself.

Even if you are not an optometry student learning about the visual system day in and day out, I encourage you to take a closer look throughout your day and recognize what is beautiful and meaningful to you. Pay attention to the details of the day, instead of letting them pass you by in a blur. If you are on an eat-sleep-repeat cycle, and each day seems to unfold in a similar fashion, uncover the meaning of it all. Discover what you are capable of, despite the repetitive schedule. For if we cannot connect the visual world with the neurologic world, even if we see things a million times, there will be no meaning to the life we live.

The Green Line. Finding meaning in Chicago taking me to new heights.

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