Inner WearBy Michael Barmak, Copyright 2004
December 31, 2006
This article is about being born connected and quickly learning from society to disconnect from our feelings, imagination, intuition and Guidance. It's about learning to see with heart instead of just the eyes.
I spent the first thirty-five years of my life relying on my eyesight to see my way to happiness. I remember being taught this in kindergarten. All I wanted was to pet the puppy my friend brought for show and tell. His dog was licking my fingers when our teacher pulled my hand away.
"See with your eyes, not with your hands," she warned me.
I didn't understand why she scolded me. I mean, it wasn't like I was hugging a wild alligator. I loved dogs and dogs loved me.I shoved my hands into my pockets and stayed away from my friend and his puppy for the rest of the day.
When my eyes failed me in second grade, I really got scared. How was I supposed to make it through school with less than perfect eyes? I made excuses the first few times someone noticed I couldn't see clearly.
When I slammed into an oak tree after running the 60-yard dash, I explained to my gym teacher that I was just trying to climb one of the branches. Then I hit my head and knocked myself out on the pull-up bar.When I woke up in the school nurse's office, I told her I guess I lost the bet over who had the toughest head. Although I could scam one person at a time, I was way out of my league when I tried to pretend I could see in front of a packed school auditorium.
I had the lead in my elementary school play, "The Sentimental Scarecrow."In the final scene, Polly blows a kiss that brings me, the scarecrow, to life.All I remember is ducking because I thought she was throwing a punch at me.My mother had to run up on stage and scoop me off the floor.I ended up reading my last few lines from behind the safety of the school piano.After the play ended, my mother rushed me to our family optometrist.
When I told the eye doctor that the smallest images I could see on the eye chart were the bunk beds that my brother and I used to sleep on, he said, "No, no.You're seeing the letter 'H'." Then he asked me to read the line above that.I described my Rock'em Sock'em robots.
"See with your eyes, not with your imagination," the doctor said."The correct and only answer is the letter 'M.'" He adjusted the lens machine until I could see the letters on the chart perfectly.Then the doctor helped me pick out a pair of eyeglasses.
Now that I could see what was in front of me, my mother decided that I should learn how to play the piano.For six years, my teacher only taught me how to play classical music.I learned how to play exactly what I read on sheet music.I became a phenomenal sight reader.When I attempted to learn jazz improvisation from another musician, I hit a wall and gave up after only a few lessons.How was I supposed to play something that wasn't written down? Why weren't my eyes helping me?Even with glasses, I seemed to have a blind spot.I continued trying to see with my eyes, but clearly something wasn't working.
When I was on the 8th grade basketball team, my wire frames broke and cut my nose after I was hit in the face by an errant pass.I went back to my optometrist and bought the biggest and thickest pair of black rubber frames manufactured.The glasses came with a large strap that wrapped around my head to hold them on (the strap doubled as a belt).One opposing team laughed so hard at my glasses that they lost possession of the ball five times in the opening minute.We almost had to forfeit the game due to un-sportsman like appearance!
After our season ended, I looked for a sport where I didn't have to worry about the ball getting near my face.I chose soccer since I assumed I was only going to use my feet.I switched back to wire frames and hoped that I would lose my nickname, "Little Professor."
My plan worked for the first five minutes of soccer practice.Then the coach had me run a drill in which my teammate threw a soccer ball at my head.Right before the ball reached me, my teammate had to yell either, "catch it" or "head it" and I had to do the opposite.I got confused andlanded in a pile on my first try. The Fire Department had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate me from my mangled glasses.
Why couldn't I get it right?I mean, I saw the ball coming towards me perfectly.Why wasn't I able to process the information?How come my eyes weren't communicating to my body?Weren't they connected?I thought my eyesight and instinct were one and the same.That's what had been drilled into me since kindergarten.
"See with your eyes."
I was ready to trade my soccer ball in for a bowling ball when one of my teammates suggested that I get contact lenses.I started off with Bausch and Lomb daily wear contacts.For me, the BL quickly came to stand for BLinking.I discovered that I had a dry eye problem that made me look like a car with its emergency flashers on all the time.However, I felt more attractive and confident without eyeglasses so I continued wearing contact lenses into my adult years.
Yet I couldn't understand why I was still emotionally running into trees and hitting my head on the choices I made.Now that I could see what was in front of me, why couldn't I identify the obstacles and make better choices?Was I getting in my own way?
"See with your eyes."
I remember always wanting to have a girlfriend.I constantly went after perfect looking women who never returned my phone calls.My college fraternity nicknamed me Cupid because I kept falling in love.I had more first dates than teeth in a shark's mouth.I had learned to trust my eyes to tell me what I needed.Why were they failing me? Was I needing something different than what I was seeing?
"See with your eyes."
After graduating college, I continued leading with my eyes.I jumped from one high profile position to another.I went from being a music talent scout for Paramount Pictures to producing Mercury Records' web site to managing a telemarketing campaign for Radio City Music Hall.I changed directions so often that I got motion sickness every time I looked through the classifieds.During this time, I also experimented with alternative therapies such as bio-energetics body work.
When my bio-energetics therapist had me bite on a rag and let out my animal rage while she pulled on the other end of the cloth, I realized I was chasing my own tail.Yet I still couldn't see what I was doing wrong.
By chance I picked up a book on Native American Indian sign language.I discovered that the Indian sign for thinking is a hand gesture coming from the heart.Hmm...the heart.Maybe having perfect eyesight didn't have anything to do with seeing clearly.Was it possible that my eyesight influenced my inner sight but didn't determine it?What if I could find a way to see clearly from the inside out?Inner wear to keep my heart in focus.Inner wear to guide me to my highest good.
"See from my heart."
I began seeing all the possibilities.Sitting down at the piano and creating a song from my own feelings.Finding a true love who called me back.Recognizing my soul's calling which didn't have anything to do with calling for money.
Now that's loving.
MichaelBarmak, CSW, LCSW is an Inner Bonding Facilitator in private practice.He works with individuals and couples in person and on the phone and can be reached at 908-276-8191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Today, try an experiment. Focus all day on everything you are grateful for, and choose to have compassion rather than judgment for yourself and others. At the end of the day, notice how terrific you feel!
By Dr. Margaret Paul