My near and distance vision has been declining over the past few years. There’s no way I pass cars anymore since judging speeds, especially at night, is difficult. Tiny words on tubes and bottles might as well be in another language, and buying a magnifying glass has been on my “to do” list for months.
It was time to take action. I made an appointment with my optometrist. That appointment was today. The eye doctor is a genial fellow who’s got a vast array of high tech equipment. His verdict? “Your eyes have changed significantly.” Still … don’t worry, be happy. It’s an age thing. Okay, I’m getting up there. I accept the emerging realities of my senior life.
I headed over to Costco, the home of super-sized quantities and very friendly optical employees. The woman who greeted me was the same person who found my red and purple and yellow frame two years ago. She remembered me and my glasses. I ordered the new and improved lenses, but there was one tiny detail: my dear frame had to go off to Toronto or somewhere for about ten days. Hmm. Well, what can you do?
The staff member asked if I had a backup pair. No. Guess I’m not much of a backup person. I’ll just wear my sunglasses.
I’m several hours into my shortterm visual life, and there are things to say:
1. It’s dark
How strange. Everything I look at is muted. My lovely red EasyBoy chair is less red. The sky out there feels like an eclipse has moved in. My world feels lifeless, listless, subdued, tiresome. There’s a shroud hanging over things, and I can’t seem to remove it.
If it’s not number 1, then it’s …
“Just take off the sunglasses, Bruce, and the light will come back.” That’s true. But I can’t see the words on the white feather that’s in the soil across from me: “Dream on.” I can barely make out the birdies who are perching on my feeder. And writing this blog post is “by guess and by golly” until I move my eyes to a point six inches from the screen.
Physically is one thing
What must it be like in the heart
of someone who’s spiritually dark or blurry?
Where anger, fear and depression colour the day
Or where all is muddled, disorienting and not worth the effort
May the light and clarity return to us all
I was on a New York City ferry in September, looking up at the Statue of Liberty. I was moved … and I wondered why. Perhaps it was the immensity of the woman or the history of immigrants arriving in America. Yes, and there was more. She was holding her torch high – proudly and serenely.
I think of other torches in my life, especially in 1988 as a runner came by on the way to Olympic Stadium in Calgary, Alberta. We the crowd were ecstatic in our cheers. Another light was held aloft. I knew there was something immensely special here.
Then there was another Olympics – 2010 in Vancouver, B.C. The stadium glowed with thousands of candles as kd lang sang the Leonard Cohen anthem Hallelujah. I could feel the grace of it all through my TV screen.
The scale of all this light is huge but I’ve also felt the magic on a person-to-person level, sometimes in a simple church. A lit candle at the end of a pew transfers its glow to other candles waiting further along. We receive and then we give.
If we’re willing
Here I am in the St. Thomas Public Library, plunked down in my favourite chair. Across from me are five windows fifteen feet high. I love looking out at downtown. Except I can’t right now … five translucent blinds are pulled all the way down. I see the vague basics of the heritage building across the street but the brick is a mystery to me. Two men are in chairs in front of those windows and I’m choosing not to intrude, not to raise the blinds.
There’s a flatness inside of me. I like long views. I like expansiveness rather than feeling I’m inside of a cardboard box. The world outside is tantalizingly close but its rich details are lost. Now I’m looking inside some more. I’m sad. I want the light to shine in, to touch me. I’m sitting quietly as I type, feeling the contraction. On one level it’s all okay. It’s just the phenomena of life saying hi. But it’s not the phenomenon I want.
I love window tables. I love sidewalk cafés. I love the sun on my face … and on my food.
During my long meditation retreat in Massachusetts last fall, we had a late afternoon sitting in the hall as the sun was falling to the horizon. More tall windows. One day, I was thrilled to feel the sun as I sat with my eyes closed. It slowly moved across my body, increasing in intensity, plateauing and then declining. And then it was gone. Ahh … like the journey of life.
A few days later, I had just sat down, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the sun. Another yogi walked over and closed the blind. I was devastated. However, my Buddhist training had taught me to let people be, unless what they were doing was hurting others. I couldn’t say that the closing of the blind was damaging me. But I was sad. Most days thereafter, one yogi or another would close that blind. Only occasionally would the light and heat touch my eyelids. (Sigh)
I feel that ice is slowly melting
It seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
And I say, it’s all right