How I See Things

How I See Things
Cartoon-like drawing in shades of dark to medium purple. Eyes with beautiful eyelashes, looking through a pair of glasses.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Vision and Athletic Skill

This blog post is dedicated to all the Olympians, whether they have competed in the past, will compete in the future, are competing in this year's games, or have arrived and for whatever reason, found themselves fully trained and ready and then not able to compete. They have a skill that I can only equate to a Super Hero's agility, ability, strength and fortitude. 

Image courtesy of the Bitmoji app. This is a caricature of short blonde haired "me," wearing a red tank top and red shorts, doing a C jump, with red and orange pompons. The cartoon is surrounded by the words, "Go, You!" in royal blue font, surrounded by yellow and then outlined in black. 

I have been watching some of the Olympic Summer Games on NBC's Peacock app. (I don't have cable TV, so I subscribe to services as I want them.) I subscribed to Peacock just so I can watch the Olympics. 

Unfortunately, I live in a bad Internet reception area, so it's spotty, but I'm seeing what I can, when I can. Thankfully, Virginia Governor Northam announced recently that the government of Virginia is pouring in 700 million to help people like me who live in awful Internet areas

So, I have watched some of the surfing and the gymnastics. I was watching one of the tumblers on the mat effortlessly flip in the air and land beautifully and gracefully. This is what they are judged on, aren't they? And it made me think back to when I was a grade school girl, never in gymnastics. I remember being so frustrated that every girl around me could do a cartwheel and I couldn't. I couldn't even do a roundoff. A roundoff is like a cartwheel but you land on both feet together instead of one at a time. 

As I thought about this just for a moment, and the gymnast was doing her floor routine, I realized my vision issues confound me. No wonder I can't do things other people find easy - YET AGAIN. I can't visually discern where the floor is (I can now, thanks to vision therapy, see up to about 4 feet away from me at 3D, but everything beyond that is "flat." And I am over 5'7"). I can't see the floor. I am guessing when a gymnast does a twist and a flip, they can see the ceiling as they flip around so they can gage when their feet will land on the floor. There is no way I can do that. I will never be able to do that. 

How wonderful that so many people have wonderful vision and can do such fabulous skills. I wonder if they know their vision is such a strong key in them being able to do these skills? I am positive they know their thigh muscles, back position, arm position, hand position, tuck the head ... I am positive they know all of THAT figures in. And they know their mental health and active body awareness figures in. But do they also know to what extent their vision figures in? Maybe they do. But I just figured it out today. 

When I started vision therapy, apparently I walked with a choppy gait. It's because I can't discern the ground and what's ahead of me well. Everything shifts and moves and I just do my best. As I progressed in vision therapy, I started to walk more smoothly. My lawyer, of all people, is the first person who commented on it. She said, "you're walking more smoothly!" It caught me by surprise. I don't notice anything different about my walk, and I can only attribute it to vision therapy. 

I also want to acknowledge, in my blog post, the extraordinary thing that Simone Biles did for mental health: she acknowledged that she had "The Twisties" in the air and didn't know where her body was. This can be so dangerous, I read, because you need to know where you are and when you will land. I read, also, that it's so scary to get "The Twisties," and it can take weeks (or months?) to gain trust in your own body and ability again after getting these. 

Elena Mukhina, the 1978 Women's Gymnastics World Champion, was not allowed to step back for a physical injury, and then she was steam-rolled into continuing to train to compete, despite her saying, "I'm not ready!" Subsequently, she landed on her chin doing a trick, which resulted in her becoming paraplegic. 

I think about Rosa Parks and what she did for equal rights. She said she was tired. Tired of bowing down to those who would oppress her. Her act created ripple effects throughout the country. Simone Biles stood up for herself and said, "I can't do it right now." And it has had ripples already. Hopefully mostly good ripples. 

I want to thank Simone Biles for standing up for what is important to her. Her health is clearly important - you don't get to be a world class athlete like she is, without making your physical health a top priority. She has also shown, now, that her mental health is also important. 

I haven't ever had "The Twisties," of course, I can't even do a cartwheel. Though I used to be able to do wonderful somersaults! But I have stood up too fast and gotten dizzy so many times. I don't know where the ground is. I have suffered from Vertigo several times in my adult life. My vision issues make things spin and make me dizzy. I get enough of these dizzy spells on a daily basis, that I am just used to them. I can't do anything quickly. I have to go slow to keep my own equilibrium. How much worse would this be, to be flying through the air doing twists and flips and turns, and lose this sense of equilibrium? It has got to be just awful, in my opinion. 

I wish all the Olympians a successful season. Doing their routines and skills to empty audiences. What a unique time for the Olympics. And: may we all do our part to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and the Delta variant too by getting immunized and wearing our masks. I know I need to do better now, with wearing my mask. 


  1. Fantastic post! I am so proud of Simone! She has learned that taking care of herself is so important and the Olympics are a sport... not a life!

    1. Thank you for the compliment, Holly! I am so proud of Simone too. I am in awe of her - her grace, strength and strength of character.

  2. Lovely post. I appreciate your insight. Thank you.


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