I have been fortunate to live in some of England’s most beautiful places and, in the years before I became ill, to visit many others around the world. Although I always enjoy travelling and meeting new people, much of the world’s natural beauty was hidden from me, or limited to my imagination, based on the descriptions given to me by other people, because of my poor eyesight.
Now, of course, everything has changed. I have been writing about the improvement in my eyesight for almost a year now, but so far I have concentrated on how well I can read, how well I can see over a measured distance under test conditions. I have even discussed the test results, which proved to me that prevailing medical opinion, which argues that such improvements should not be possible, is clearly wrong.
Last weekend, with two friends, I visited The Lake District, an area of stunning natural beauty in England’s north-west, which inspired the poetry of William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850). It was the first time I have been able to use my fresh new eyesight for pure pleasure.
When we arrived, I had in my mind Wordsworth’s poetic descriptions, which I had studied at school, but I had no idea what my eyes would actually allow me to see. The Lake District indeed is a beautiful place.
For me, however, the day was full of visual surprises. Not only was I seeing one of the most beautiful parts of England for the first time, but also I was seeing everyday objects in entirely new ways and even seeing some things, which I had never been able to see before. There are far too many examples to give them all here, but among the most remarkable were: a level of detail, which was completely hidden to me before, and the ability to see the textures, which I used only to know by touch. I was able to see the outlines of individual trees, in woodland, which was a dramatic improvement, when compared with the nebulous mass of green with which I was familiar with. The idea of textures being visible, as well as tactile, has never made much sense to me before now. While taking a boat trip on Lake Windermere, I was able to see the ripples on the water caused by a very slight wind. I had never been able to see anything like them before. Ripples on water had been something I learnt about in physics, but not something I expected ever to see. Even the waves at sea have only been visible when the light was perfect, or the waves were huge.
I am fascinated to find out what other areas of natural beauty look like, through fresh eyes.