8 Min Read

Did You See The Gorilla?

Published on

May 30, 2022

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things…” — Colossians 3:2

Asa budding intellectual and one curious about many things, I love TED Talks for their ability to condense years of research and experience into succinct and eye opening 20-minute packages. One of the early TED Talks that left a mark on me was “The Gift of Blindness” by Cobhams Asuquo. It was an unusual and interesting take on blindness. Following this initial exposure, I have come to realize through experience, readings and teachings, three (3) things about sight which I hope to share briefly. Ready to see? Let’s go!

Let us run a quick experiment. Please watch the video of basketball players below and count the number of passes between the team dressed in white. Getting the correct number of passes is very important.

There were about 15 passes. Did you get it?

Congratulations! Now, Did You See The Gorilla? Odds are if you saw the Gorilla, you got the pass count wrong — in a nutshell, you can not eat your cake and have it.

Studies show that there’s a 50% chance that you completely missed the Gorilla! And it was right there! I use this experiment to illustrate three things about sight.

  1. Sight requires Blindness

From as early as the age of four (4) months, the human eye gains the ability to focus and track objects. This focused sight gives detail and clarity on the object of attention, while simultaneously blurring out other objects in the field of vision. By this simple act of devoting focus and attention, we find that sight inevitably requires, or rather produces a form of blindness — a blurring of objects outside the field of focus.

2. Sight is Goal-Driven

Given the nature of sight, its implied blindness, and this colourful world of “glittering toys”, seemingly life-threatening scenarios and attention seeking platforms/people/organizations, the big question then becomes; What Do You Look At? How do you determine what — within your binocular 114 degrees field of view — would have your focus? We find that sight/focus is intent driven. A clear goal guides the sight and focus and makes the decision. For example, you have decided to read this article (your goal) and doing so has made this particular word clear (your focus/sight) and the rest of the page, and your environment blurred out (implicit blindness).

3. Sight is a Two Way Street

They say the eyes are the window into the soul — perhaps taking a leaf from Matthew 6:23 (Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body…) and like a window, things can both go in, and go out. It’s a two-way street. For example, one of the goals ingrained into the human brain is that of survival — this is why imagery that appear predatory or life threatening are immediately given focus — regardless of the prior intent. Don’t think so? How many times have you walked down a poorly lit road, with the intent to simply move from point A to point B, or catch the cool night breeze, only to be rudely interrupted by a long black rope having the appearance of a snake?

More often than not, when we read Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart with all diligence…” we focus on the guarding of what gets into your heart, right? In other words, hear no evil, see no evil — protect your mental/psychological/spiritual space. What is often forgotten is that a guard “guards” both what goes in, and what goes out. Interestingly enough, one might argue that Proverbs 4:23 places more emphasis on what comes out (given the part B of the verse which says “…for out of it flows” and not “…for into it flows.” Guarding is not just about what gets in, but what also gets out. This is because what gets out often directs and determines the goal/intent, which in turn determines what you see. For example, if your heart is set on cooking (or eating), your sight would be directed towards foods in line with goal. Another example, ever notice how after you think of a particular car type/brand, or have your heart set on it, it begins to “miraculously” pop up every time you’re on the road?

Whenever I recall these things about sight, I am reminded of the story of Peter walking the raging seas with Jesus (Matthew 14:22–33), and as long as his eyes were fixed on Jesus, he walked with no challenges. Did the storms cease? Not at all, but his focus shifted, so did his sight, and so did the “issue (or non-issue) or life”. I am reminded of Wisdom crying out in the streets (Proverbs 1:20), creation declaring the glory of God (Psalm 19:1),

I am reminded that He is not far away, regardless of what is going on around me, He is the calm in the midst of the storm, the Proximity over Contexts, and if only I would shift my focus, if only I would set Him before me, all other things, every worry, doubt, despair, trouble of life, every other name would fade away, in the glory of His face, in the beauty of holiness.

I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be moved. — Psalm 16:8

Itoro Nehemiah


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