Thursday, December 31, 2009

31 Eyes: A Month of Exercises for You to Try

Every January a bunch of people resign themselves to do something fun and creative every day for a month. Many of these things take shape as artworks, songs, videos or public stunts that may or may not involve dental floss, piggyback rides and taking liberties with other people's lips. Many venture onto a more personal track of meditative journaling or New-Year's-resolution-inspired physical fitness regimens.

In past years I've made 31 little comic books, taken 31 photos of myself trying to touch my toes, documented 31 vegan recipes and card games, divulged 31 secret crushes, penned 31 letters to my grandma, recorded 31 dreams or analyzed the dreams of 31 other dreamers. All of these efforts proved fun for me and at least a few more people, yet I always felt that there was some self-indulgence in them—like if I were to put 31 little bursts of creativity out into the world, they ought to be helping humanity in a bigger, better way than just saying, "Your anxiety about gentrification is manifested as a technicolor giraffe."

This year I wrestled with what to do. Writing, laying out, photocopying and collating a Zine-A-Day seemed a little daunting. Authoring-the-Great-American-Novel-A-Day ranked up there with Flogging-A-Dead-Horse-A-Day as far as scruples were concerned. And I decided to save Yoga-Pose-In-Public-A-Day for some year when I'm in a land where January=summer.

Then this idea smacked me upside the head: I've been practicing Natural Vision Therapy techniques for more than a decade, spurred on by a degenerative retinal disease that I inherited from my pops. These "eye exercises" (though many are simply good habits for relaxing the eyes, the brain, and the rest of the body) have helped me stabilize and improve my vision.

A lot of friends have approached me wanting to know more about this work, and I've given people personal tutorials. There are books on the subject, but many of them are dense tomes filled with polysyllabic medical terminology, ranty nutjob discourse, and woo-woo new age flair that some folks find a tad daunting. My job has been, for the past decade, to decipher the lingo, visit all sorts of quacky opto-docs, and wade through decathlons of woo to get to the nitty-gritty of the work—the stuff we can all do to stop eyesight for getting worse, maybe even makingit better.

And so, dear reader, I'll be posting something that you can do every day to better your vision during the month of January (and yeah, there is this irony of putting on this stab-you-in-the-retina place called the Internet). Come February, these tidbits will be compiled into a publication available at the Philadelphia Fun-A-Day exhibition. Beyond that, these exercises are here for you to use throughout the year—try them and see how you feel!

Top image: "Vision Quest" 5-color silkscreen print by fellow visual self-healer Bec Young. See more of her prints at

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