Updated: Jun 20, 2019
When I was young, my vision was bad. It was also rapidly deteriorating and corrections with glasses never seemed to be good for long- my young world was pretty out of focus. So in the seventh grade, after much begging and pleading, my mom let me get contact lenses.
It was miraculous, how clear my world was for the first time.
But then I began to see these weird things that looked like fibers on my eyeballs, and my eye doctor introduced me to the common anatomical phenomenon of floaters. He said they would come and go. It seemed a small price to pay for clear vision.
In 2012, I had LASIK surgery. It was hands down the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and the only “self-improvement” procedure I’ve ever done. In the year or two after LASIK, I noticed a floater that seemed like a wadded ball of translucent thread in the middle of everywhere that I looked.
On a regular scheduled checkup with my eye doctor, again, I mentioned it and asked if there was anything he could do to fix it- I was driving a lot back then and something about the big bright blue backdrop of the Southwestern sky made the floater seem prominent and annoying. Almost like it was forcing me to see it.
That doctor was a dick.
I can remember this conversation like it was yesterday, because it was the last time I saw the guy. He was also a local politician and the kind of doctor who just really wanted you to know how smart he was. And I think he abhorred LASIK patients because there was nothing he could sell them anymore. Maybe I was the thirty-second person to ask him about floaters that day. He wasn’t the doctor who did the surgery and from what I could tell there was definitely some love lost between them. Who knows.
Anyway, I digress.
He went into this long dissertation about what floaters are and told me that they don’t “go away”, and then explained that your brain just eventually refuses to see what your body can’t repair. Twenty minutes later I recall thinking, dude, you could have just said ‘no’.
I haven’t really thought about that in a long time, but the sky was big and bright blue yesterday, the way it used to be when that knotted up ball of broken eye junk used to demand attention.
And I wonder when I stopped paying enough attention to it that my brain decided it doesn’t exist.
So I did a little experiment, and I told my brain- asked my brain really…
Hey, Brain. Is that thing really still there? Or was that doctor a quack along with being mean? P.S. Aren’t you glad we don’t have to see him anymore?
And my brain, I assume, looked around for random eye junk. There’s a little spot here and there, I noticed. But that big ‘un… Seems like it’s gone for good.
I thought about that for while. I wonder if it’s still there and I just can’t see it anymore, or if my body somehow, miraculously (according to Dr. Knowitall) actually fixed it. And then I thought about how the brain is really quite the idiotic liar, so I decided to side with the doctor.
The brain hates blind spots. The brain will fill in the blanks when the world doesn’t do it for you and will magically make things disappear that you don’t want to see, if you will only choose not to pay attention long enough. Your brain will let you drive a car to work while you’re really sleeping. It will conjure up memories when you don’t want them. It will make you forget the next thing you wanted to say and where you parked your car. Under enough stress, your brain can make you agree to things you really don’t want to agree to, and when threatened it can convince you that you have supernatural powers. Your brain will play audio loops over and over again in your head for no good reason. Your ears will hear a voice and your brain will tune in and want more or tune out and leave you stranded trying to figure out what was just said to you so you can respond appropriately. If you push your body too far past it’s natural point of pain acceptance, the brain will keep you alive but totally be like, peace out. Enjoy the sleep. And then you’ll wake up rebooted.
You can go for days, weeks, years… ignoring something that was once front and center in your field of vision. And your brain will tell you it’s not there. Maybe it never was. And who cares, right? Problem solved.
Maybe, that doctor wasn’t so bad.
When you think about it…
It’s the brain that can’t be trusted.