That Voice In Your Vision

When I was a kid, I enjoyed tinkering with tinker toys. As a rapidly aging, grumpy geezer, I enjoy a different type of tinkering—tinkering with words.

One of the most challenging pieces of writing is what I call “tired eyes.” Tired eyes happen after a piece has been written. Now, I have the challenge of proofing the piece to find errors. My best editing trick is reading the piece out loud, and even that isn’t full proof.

The most frustrating misses are the ones found after a piece has been posted to my blog. For whatever reason, my tired eyes didn’t catch an error, and that drives me nuts. 

I’ve had the privilege of writing three books for children. In two of our books, we found overlooked errors after publication. This was despite countless re-readings, and using non-tired eyes for proofing. I couldn’t believe it. With the third book, we pledged not to send the galley proof back to the printer until we were absolutely sure we had the manuscript perfect.

Tired eyes can impact life too.

Our eyes can become weary as they are too willing to accept the errors of life in front us. We move on without challenging.

This is dangerous. Why is this dangerous?

Well, the risk in the moving on is that we stop listening to the voice in our vision. 

You know, Bill, I have always felt you were a bit wacky, and I think you just confirmed that for me—there is no voice in my vision.

Sorry, but I beg to differ—there is a voice in your vision. 

After your eyes scan in something disturbing, that hushed librarian voice says to you, “I can’t believe this is happening, someone needs to speak out about this situation.” That’s the voice in your vision.

It is a quiet, squeaky, nudging whisper. This voice wants to prod you, me, we, us forward, but we often close our ears.

Ted Williams was one of the best hitters in baseball. He worked. He learned. He studied his positioning and swing in the batter’s box. He intentionally observed the movements and habits of opposing pitchers. And, Mr. Williams was blessed with a gift— extraordinary vision.

According to USA Today’s publication Baseball Weekly, Mr. Williams did not realize how blessed his eyes were until he signed up to serve in World War II. In his medical examination for admission, Mr. Williams learned his vision was 20/10. That vision led, Mr. Williams to become a Marine Corps fighter pilot. 

David Halberstam’s book Summer of ’49 takes a look at the baseball pennant race that season between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

He describes a day when Mr. Williams of the Red Sox strikes out. Williams comes back to the dugout complaining about striking out. Thinking out loud, Williams believes he was called out on strikes because home plate was out of line. His teammates gave him grief about his theory.

But, before the game the next day, the Red Sox manager went out to measure the placement of home plate. And he found, that Ted William’s assertion was correct—home plate was out of line.

Ted Williams followed that voice in his vision. He trusted his instincts. He spoke out. His speaking out brought about a change. 

Right now, America needs the voices in our vision. We are still a divided country. 

Our wounds for lots of different reasons are deep. These wounds are not healing.

 Why is that?

 Are we incapable of healing?

 Have we lost the capacity to see what is so obvious?

If Ted Williams through his vision could theorize that home plate was out of line, why can’t we see how dangerous our division is to our country?

Singer songwriter, Jackson Browne, has written many thought provoking songs. His first hit, “Doctor My Eyes,” has always intrigued me. This one verse really makes me think:

“Doctor, my eyes, tell me what you see. I hear their cries,

just say if it’s too late for me.”

For a long, long, long time these cries of division have been present. We can no longer ignore them.

If we continue to ignore this division, then it is going to be too late for America. We can’t let this happen, we must overcome this tiredness in our eyes. 

The silent voices in our vision need to speak out with helpful, healing, hearts. 

Listen you, me, we, us—don’t let it be too late.

Note from the author: Thanks to my sister, Lisa Henry, for the reminder about “Doctor My Eyes.”

Home plate at the University of Richmond’s baseball field, photo by Bill Pike

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