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I chose to spend time in Schenley Park, facing Phipps Conservatory, to focus on how I see and experience the world.

When I sat down on a bench, my eyes were immediately drawn to the bright yellow leaves on a row of trees in front of me.  I found that throughout the time I was sitting there, my vision was constantly drawn to these trees, as they provided such a bright contrast against the dull gray sky and greenish-brown grass.

I tried a couple of exercises suggested in class:

1) I closed my eyes for awhile, then opened them, to see where my vision would be drawn first.  Of course, my impulse was to look at the trees that had drawn my attention from the beginning. 

2) I tried to imagine how various things would feel, based on how they looked:

   A) I observed the fallen leaves that were brown and shriveled on the grass.  The way that the light hit the leaves, and the texture,  indicated to me that they had stiffened over time, and would probably crunch if I stepped on them.

   B) I looked at tree bark, and its texture, and could very clearly imagine how it would feel if I touched it based on how it looked, and past experiences.

   Thinking this way about things also made me realize just how much previous experience affects my perception of things that I see.  Imagining what tree bark would feel like probably depends strongly on memories of how tree bark has felt to me in the past.  The same is true of leaves dried up on the ground, or grass that is starting to brown from the cold.

I noticed over time that my attention was not only drawn by the brightness of the trees, but also by movement.  When a jogger ran by, or a car drove by, I would automatically at least glance at whatever was creating the movement.  This seemed to happen every time, unless I specifically willed myself not to look.

Next, I reflected on the clarity of things directly in my line of sight, versus something in my peripheral vision.  I watched a car drive by, directly in my line of sight, but kept my sight looking forward as the car went off to the side. When the car was in front of me, I could distinguish a great deal of detail about it, including color and model.  By the time the car had moved just a short distance to the right, I was unable to determine the color, or even definitely that it was a car.  It's hard to believe that our vision can go from so clear to so undetailed in just a short space.  Of course, this is something we usually do not notice as our line of sight is constantly shifting to take in our surroundings.

Last, I focused on the clarity of distant objects.  I noticed how incredible it was that I could make out a car driving on top of a parking garage in the distance, and that I would see a light flashing on a plane that was flying very far away.  It's interesting how we can see so far but that our peripheral vision is lacking.

By the time I had finished sitting in Schenley and reflecting on my vision, I was astonished by how amazing our sight really is.  We can see such great detail, such as the difference between individual leaves on a tree several yards away, and our vision is constantly shifting to take in, and respond to, our surroundings.  

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