I knew it was bad news when the doctor moved in close and said in a somber tone; “We need to talk. Watch this video and then we’ll discuss it further.” The voice on the two minute clip began with these words; “When we were young…” This must be worst than I thought! “Were young?” When did “were” become a part of my description? After the video finished playing the doc said; “Your eyes aren’t as strong as they used to be…you need bifocals!” What?!?! Me?!?! Bifocals?!?! I remember looking at my grandmother’s glasses when I was a boy and asking; “why do your glasses look so funny? What’s this line in the middle of the lens?” I tried them on and they made my head hurt. I decided that bifocals were not for me. They were for old people! Yet, here I sat today, the eye doctor telling me what aches, pains, earlier bedtime, night trips to the bathroom, acid re-flux, a receding/graying hair-line had been saying for a while. “Brian, you’re not so young anymore.” Sigh.
The truth I must accept is; there’s nothing I can do about getting older. I once heard a comedian say; “All those health nuts and workout freaks are going to be really aggravated one day when they’re lying in a hospital bed, dying of nothing.”
Old. Why are so many of us afraid of such a small word? Maybe it’s because we equate being old with being of little use, past our prime, waiting for our demise. C.S. Lewis says; “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” I believe that’s true but on a day I’m feeling my age I also want to make sure what I’m doing now matters. I don’t want to set only goals I might not reach. There are plenty of folks who had retirement plans and never made it that far. Life has a way of making the unexpected expected. I want to be mindful, purposeful in how I am living this day, every day, this moment, every moment. I want to know that if my last breath is drawn today or many years from now that I made a difference and I want this to be enough.
I wear glasses. I may not be legally blind but I can’t see without them. If I don’t wear them, forget them or lose them, it doesn’t go well. Stubbed toes, bruised knees, bumps on the head result.
To get to our mailbox you must cross a street that can be busy. Saturday, as I was traversing this road to go check mail, suddenly my vision became blurry. I wasn’t sure what was happening. I had my specs where they were supposed to be, in front of my eyes, yet everything was distorted. I stopped immediately, removed my frames and noticed one of the lenses had popped out.
When you can’t see without prescription assistance it can be tough going to find the object that’s designed to help you see. There I was, in the middle of the roadway, holding a hand over a blurry eye, dog sniffing where I’m feeling around, making quite the spectacle of myself, looking for the missing part of my spectacles. Finally, I located the rogue lens and then walked back to the house still closing the unfocused eye. I fixed the frames and went to the mailbox again. This time the way was much easier.
A proper prescription was useless, the perfect frames counted for nothing. My path was known, the task understood but with no vision I had to first find that which enabled me to see.
What’s distorting your vision today?
sight and clarity,
It happened the week of my birthday. I had a headache and needed to take some meds. When I grabbed a pill bottle I seemed to bring it up closer to my eyes than ever before to read it. Uhoh! The thought struck me, one day, maybe soon, I will need …gasp…bi-focals! So I headed to the eye doctor to get checked out. It had been a while so the following week my wife and I visited a place called “Total Vision” (the perfect name for a contemplative!)
After checking in we looked at glass frames and waited for the doctor to call my name. Have you ever noticed that when you are waiting for your name to be called when it finally happens you feel like you have won the lottery? You jump up and walk with your nose a little higher in the air? Almost as if to look down upon those unfortunate ones who are still waiting?
We followed the assistant to a machine where I was instructed to place my head like so, rest my chin here and relax. I did what I was told and the machine blew air into my eye! I am sure the lady told me this was going to happen but I wasn’t paying attention. Following this I had to sit in another chair at a different machine and look at a kaleidoscope that focuses and un-focuses. This wasn’t too bad and was like being on an “acid trip” without the acid, I guess.I was then led to another chair and was told the doctor would call me when he was ready.
My name was called, I jumped up and went into the examination room. Eye exams are strange events. You sit in a chair, they turn off the lights, lower another weird contraption in front of your eyes and the doctor asks “can read this?” My first thought is always “not without my glasses. My eyesight is so bad I can’t even read the big E at the top of the chart without my specs! Doesn’t he have my file in front of him?”
After realizing just how impaired my sight is the doctor adjusts the lenses and repeats “is this better or worse? Number 1 or number 2?” At first all this does is remind me I should’ve gone to the bathroom before I sat in the chair but with a little patience and experience the examiner begins to help me see more clearly. The exam doesn’t take long but this time the doc seemed to go faster than usual. Rather abruptly the examination ended and he said “your right eye needs an adjustment but not your left.” I said “OK,” thanked him, picked out my frames and left.
A week later I had my new glasses and almost immediately I noticed that my eyesight on the right was crisp but my left was still blurry. Figuring it would take a few days to adjust I waited. Several days later and still no change, I was concerned. Going back I inquired with the receptionist if someone could see me and described the problem. He asked for my glasses and checked to see if the prescription and alignment was correct. They were good to go but I wasn’t leaving before the optometrist gave me another look.
After waiting, again, I was called back, again, eyeball blowing, again, pretty colors, again, more waiting, and the doctor called me back…yes, again. I informed him of what was happening, looked through the lens machine, answered the chart questions and he took his time. He not only used the machine but also handheld lenses. When it was over he said “I think we need to increase your prescription in your left eye as well.” I thanked him again, ordered a new lens and now everything is just peachy.
I wonder if I do that sometimes? Someone comes to me for clarity, wisdom, guidance and I just rush them through, hurry them up? Maybe someone doesn’t even want advice just to be listened to?
What if we took our time with everyone we met? What if we didn’t see them as an obstacle, an appointment, a to-do item, but rather was fully present for them in that moment? If we did that for each other maybe we would all see a little more clearly.
light and wisdom,