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Reclaiming Your Eyeballs

When I was a young woman, I had no idea how worthy of respect I was. I spent all my time trying to convince other people of something I didn’t believe myself: You should love me. If only I had valued what I already had. If only I’d stopped throwing myself at the world in hopes of being caught — only to find myself in someone’s prison: their lower opinion of me.

I find the same is going on these days with our eyeballs. We don’t really respect their worth to us. We give them indiscriminately to whoever offers the loudest, most sensational distraction. The marketing world is after our eyes. The literary world. Netflix, HBO, Showtime. Billboards by the highway. CNN, Fox News. Everyone’s after our eyes.

To find out, I’m doing this experiment. I try to consciously remember — before I watch a show or a clip or whatever — that I’m letting someone else use my eyes for their benefit. And I try to make sure the relationship is consensual. A lot of the time, it is. But sometimes, like the other day when I was watching a stupid show just to pass the time, I decided No. I don’t want to give my eyes to this show.

In that instance, I thought, “What do I want to give my eyes to?”

After some moments when by, I remembered a Christmas gift from five years ago, a stunning book of photographs by Frans Lanting. I found it on my bookshelf, pulled it out and brought it to the couch. I turned the pages slowly. Each image gave itself to my eyes in a way that filled my body. It was one of the first times I’d been conscious of how it feels to see.

Then I realized it was late and I was tired. I laid down to rest, shutting my eyes, giving them a break from the world for a while (which is another way to respect your eyes —to give them peace and kindness).

Honor your eyes.

Just because everybody wants them doesn’t mean everybody owns them. You own your eyes. Consider this. Every time you click on a link or press play, you’re feeding whatever that energy is, and someone on the other end benefits. Make sure you want that.

Our eyes have incredible power. Who we give them to will eventually shape the world. Let’s be careful about this.


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