Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Eye-Hand Thing

At The Cliff Castle Casino 2/5/14
For the past three years, I have really been into the "Eye-Hand Thing."  Why's that?  Well, I want to be able to stay focused and sharp--that's the primary reason.  I want to use my brain for more than sitting around looking at stuff on the internet.  I want to be able to know that I can throw darts to a bullseye, bowl strikes and spares, keep the bowling ball out of the gutter, shoot competitively and win, hit a golf ball with a club, win at croquet and bocce ball and many other such Eye-Hand Things.

I believe all Eye-Hand Things are related.  The name of the game may be different.  The tools of the game may be different.  The goals of the game may be wildly different.  However, all of the various games I play have one thing in common--you simply can't do them well (or even at all) without the ability to coordinate your hands with your eyes and create some sort of fluid motion in your biomechanical system that sends an object toward a target of some sort.

Whether right or wrong or misguided, I strongly believe that keeping my Eye-Hand Thing sharp will keep my brain function sharp.  I don't want to slow down and become stagnant and inactive like so many people I see that are the same age as me.  That's what it comes down to--trying to stay sharp as I enter this Aging Thing.

Long ago, an Old Man told me, "If you want to keep on moving, you better keep on moving."  I've tried to live by that mantra for many decades now and I intend to continue to attempt to keep on moving as long as possible.  I may not be in shape any more for backpacking into the Grand Canyon and I must admit it pains me mentally to admit that.  I would like to think there's nothing I can't do.  However, there are some things I can't do and maybe I need to use some maturity and the so-called "wisdom of age" to make such admissions and move on.

Some people wonder why I like to go bowling by myself and get into "aerobic bowling" where I bowl a minimum of 10 games and try to get them done in under 100 minutes.  Well, it's both the Eye-Hand Thing but it's also the maintenance of focus for a protracted period of time.

During the time I am bowling, I am thinking ONLY of bowling and nothing else.  It's kind of a meditation thing.  I am working with myself, talking to myself, berating myself and paying attention to each and every ball I roll during that time period.  I look at my feet.  I position my arms, shoulders, hands, fingers and everything else to try to do the best with each and every ball I roll.

Today, for example. I started out terrible.  My attitude sucked.  I actually bowled the worst game in my modern history--a freaking EIGHTY-ONE!  Well, that woke me up!  I stood there on that alley by myself and talked to myself.  I said, "Only YOU can turn this around, Parsons."  Now bowl your best and act like you know what you are doing here.  And the very next game was a 156, danged near double the score of the previous game.

So, how and why did such a dramatic improvement take place?  Because I wasn't simply "going through the motions" thinking that I was bowling.  Nope. I paid attention to each and every component of what constitutes good form and good eye-hand coordination and good delivery and good follow through.  I concentrated on making eye contact with the pins while attempting to forget about the ball in my hand--trusting that the hand would deliver the ball to where my eyes were looking.

This Monday at our bi-weekly pistol match, I finished first out of nine shooters.  I had an outstanding match and it was primarily because I threw caution to the wind and TRUSTED that the bullets would go where my eyes were looking without worrying how my hands were pointing the pistol.  And, indeed, that is what happened.

I have found in throwing darts and playing croquet that I do my best whenever I stop thinking about the ball or the darts and I start thinking only about what my eyes are focused on.

Way back in my gonzo whitewater kayaking days, I was able to paddle really hairball rapids.  People would often ask me "how do you do that?"  The answer was always the same, "I never look at the dangers, I only look at the most successful route--I see my way through the water and I don't worry about what my hands are doing--they will take care of themselves."  Indeed, they always did and I escaped my kayaking days uninjured.

Our minds are extremely powerful but our minds can only see and react to our world through our senses and our extremities.  The eyes are more than the windows to our soul--they are direct laser beams to our brains.  If we focus intently on what it is we are supposed to be doing, the subconscious will take care of everything.  We don't need to worry about how it's going to happen.  It happens.

So, that's why I go bowling, shoot pistols, play darts, croquet, golf, bocce and more.  It's an Eye-Hand Thing!

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