The Eyes Have It

How pollen has helped me appreciate what we can see

Darren Matthews
3 min readJun 13, 2021


The path ahead was getting narrower, as a mix of grass, thistles, and stinging nettles grew ever closer. A bee floating amongst the mix of flowers revelled in the pollen saturated scene, as it hoovered amongst the flowers. The recent mix of showers and sun providing the undergrowth with the perfect fuel to fast-track its takeover of the path.

I lifted my arms above my head as I tried to weave through the plants, taking extra care to avoid the irritating nettles that loitered close to the ground. I was out for a morning stroll, but the closeness of the undergrowth made it feel like an adventure where I should have a machete by my side.

As I escaped the undergrowth to a clearer part of the path, a picture-postcard scene greeted me. From my vantage point on the cliff top, blue sky swept across the mirror-like bay. Below, fishermen dispersed in their various boats, eager to get out into open water and seek their first catch. The spreading wake from each boat leaving a growing arrow in the water, pointing towards the stern of each craft.

As my eyes consumed the view, so I sneezed — bloody hay fever.

Don’t rub your eyes!

Arriving home, I quickly became a snivelling mess. The pollen got me. Sneeze after sneeze erupted from me, as my nasal passages rebelled against the pollen agitating inside it. My brush with the undergrowth has covered me in unseen spores of pollen.

In the comfort of my home, the nerves within my eyes rejected the approaches of the pollen. It was a losing battle as the irritation drove me to do the one thing you should never do — rub them.

Rubbing may have eased the irritation in my eyes, but it was only temporary. The particles of pollen delighting in grating my eyes to itch yet more. The intensity of the itch drove me to rub them even more, as more sneezing followed.

It was an unwanted flywheel.

My pollen allergy was being laid bare — my eyes swelled as they throbbed from the rubbing. Coldwater filled the sink as I attempted to calm the rage, plunging my face into the water, and blinking repeatedly.



Darren Matthews

I’m utterly curious about decision-making | Sharing lessons learned from the thousands of decisions I’ve studied and made | Founder