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Column: It's My Health!

Gerald Lopez

The Day the World Became Flat

Gerald's Eye Journey and Its Lessons

by Gerald Lopez, LLB; Dip.Ayurvedic Medicine

As I write this I have an ache all around my left eye and behind my eyebrow. I feel the sharp sting of stitches if I shift my gaze too quickly.

Multiple dimensions, multiple points of view...
create a world rich in depth & perspective.

I am like this because I had an eye operation a few days ago. I still can't see much beyond my fingers.

My retina - a light-sensitive layer at the back of the eyeball - detached last year, 4 months after I had an eyeball inflammation, called an idiopathic pan-uveitis. Incidentally, "idiopathic" is a technical term for "we don't know the cause."

So, for the last 14 months, my world has been flat. Just like looking perpetually at a computer screen.

It takes two eyes to perceive distance and depth. 3-D movies are filmed with two cameras, placed the same distance apart as the eyes are.

When you lose the use of one eye, you lose one dimension - and the precise ability to judge distances. Try threading a needle with one eye closed!

Apart from the ensuing clumsiness, disorientation and frustration, I have gone through cycles of hope, grief and despair. But now I feel better about it all, even philosophical at times. My main driving factor in restoring my sight, is the ability to teach and play tennis with my 8-year old son, Joshua.

My condition taught me something...

I realised that subscribing to only one point of view, excluding other points of view, also causes a flat world.

In my teens I discovered the alternate realities of the shaman Don Juan, in Carlos Castaneda's books. I started exploring these other realities with whatever means were available. An adult patronisingly told me, "Gerald, you should stick to reality." How could he presume his daily world was "reality"?

In the country of my birth, Malaysia, there is a cultural resistance to criticism and differing points of view. Many create a world that is comfortably flat, with no depth or distance; a world which does not allow other perspectives. The resulting claustrophobia I felt finally drove me out of my mother land. *

I find the most interesting and deep people are those who have travelled physically and in their consciousness. They have understanding and compassion because they have left their society-given world, realising that people can validly live in other worlds. Some people are afraid of this afraid of losing themselves. Religious people are afraid of "losing their faith". To these people I can only say they have nothing to lose but the chains of narrow thinking.

*Editor's note: We concur with much of what Gerald has said. However, recent developments, especially since our March 8 elections, have kicked off strong debates from many differing viewpoints. We welcome this new development in Malaysia.

“It is the territory that matters most”

I know the cause of my eye inflammation was unmanaged stress - though my surgeon doesn't agree about it (he reckons it was an autoimmune reaction, where the body turns on itself caused by a possible viral infection).

Optimise health through lifestyle choices,
diet, herbs, massage, yoga & relaxation.

Yes, I did have a viral flu some time before the eye inflammation. But I believe the ground was prepared for the viral infection by the damage the stress was causing.

Louis Pasteur fought for many years to get his germ theory recognised, insisting that the power of the microbe (the "weed") was more influential in the disease process than the health condition of a person (the "territory") — Yet on his deathbed, he is reported to have said, "it is the territory that matters most".

In my practice I teach people about making sure their "territory" is in the best condition so that the "weeds" of microbes, cancer and other disease can't take root. Most of my articles are about this very process optimising fundamental health through diet, lifestyle choices, herbs, massage, yoga and relaxation.

I stand guilty of not having practised what I preach. I let life get to the stage where the pressure was so immense that something had to give.

In these situations, when something does give, it does so with a violent snap such as a heart attack, a stroke, a vicious viral attack, or a sudden massive inflammation.

Damage control is often too late, recovery is slow and perhaps never complete.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions. In the meantime, I wish you the very best of health.

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About the author:
Gerald Lopez offers ayurvedic consultations and massage at his New Zealand practices, as well as ayurvedic massage retreats in New Zealand and Tonga. Visit Gerald's website at for more information.

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