And clarity of vision
I bought my first ever pair of glasses last night. They’re from the drugstore. 1.25 magnification.
I didn’t see an eye professional. Six months ago when I couldn’t read the label on a package of medicine, I knew that glasses could help.
For six months I was in the closet as a glasses person.
For six months, perhaps more I would neither admit to myself nor the world that I needed glasses.
Odd eh - that I would hide that fact that my eyes are weakening?
Glasses are a tool that increase the strength of my eyes.
It’s not like I don’t use other tools. I’m not upset that I can’t tighten the hex bolts on my bicycle stem without a wrench. I’m not disappointed that I can’t pound nails into the floor with my forehead.
Yet with glasses, I’ve been hiding.
I’ve been hiding because I love the fact that many people see me as ten years younger than I am.
I delight in the fantasy that I have ‘ten extra’ years.
That fantasy was likely created using a magic wand of denial.
Denial of my eventual decline. Denial of my mortality.
No amount of vanity, nor magic wand of denial will help me read the dosage on a box of Tylenol.
In order to read I need to embrace a certain level of reality. In order to read, I need to be honest with myself: My eyes don’t work like they used to. I’m getting older.
We all resist reality at some level. We all like to tell ourselves little lies here and there.
Reality denial is helpful. I’m dying someday. As far as I can tell, that’s not anytime soon. Ignoring mortality is helpful as it allows me to keep going with joy and lightness. It also helps me hide from the brutal truth that I will eventually expire. The decline in my ocular sensors is just a hint in this direction.
Many of you have likely used glasses for decades. My heart goes out to you. Though I love the clarity and focus they provide, they hurt my nose. I have a big melon of a head. They squeeze it and hurt my head too. Not only do I now need to embrace my failing humanity, but it’s going to hurt as well.
I feel sad about wearing glasses.
I feel excited about reading. I’m trilled when I whittle. Seeing better is really fun.
Glasses are like anything else. They bring with them positives and negatives. Any change, like needing glasses, brings with it both losses and gains.
There are those among us who love to focus on the losses. They are the ruminators, the critics, the people who love to find the problems. They get thrills and score points in the game of ‘ain’t it awful’.
There are also those among us who only focus on the gains. The chronically positive can be just as exhausting as the ‘ain’t it awful’ crowd.
I think we can do better as people.
I think we can make room in our existence for both.
We can have space in our hearts for the grief, loss and pain that come with change. We can be compassionate with people who don’t want to change and have to. Change just happens. Life is change.
We can also embrace the benefits of change without clinging to them with a savage certainty that this change is correct and righteous.
And if we’re lucky, we can find a way to understand that when it comes to our emotional life, ‘net zero’ isn’t a goal, it’s a reality.
It’s like the old saying goes:
Breakthroughs are great, unless you’re using toilet paper.
Today’s old saying was contributed by long time reader Joe Kania.
Do you have any ‘old sayings’ that could fit her?
Reply to this message and I’ll find a way to include them in the foolsletter.