2020

“…in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort….” (From The Republic, Plato)

It’s hard to avoid the irony—the titular year of perfect vision, the unraveling of once reliable norms, political structures, checks and balances, civility in all arenas, the losses of loved ones and heroes to injustice and disease.

And it’s equally hard to avoid the comparison—between that titular year of sudden perfect vision, and the years of blurring and distortion, loss of sight preceding it.

That loss creeps up on us slowly. Colors lose their intensity, fading from brilliant to dull, letters spread into each other across pages and screens as poetry and prose and road signs seem layered with petroleum jelly. For a while, it’s easy to grow accustomed to, and comfortable with changes, a world smearing out of focus, and accommodate them with sharper lenses and adjusted habits. It’s easy to say we can deal with things as they are. We’re not missing anything truly important. We can still make out the big picture.

But then, one day, those street lights that come on at dusk glare at and confuse us, make us misread road signs. Or, the newspaper goes untouched because it’s too taxing to decipher small print. That’s when we realize how much of the big picture we’re not seeing.

I’m getting to that stage with my own vision, which has been on a steady decline for years. And I’ve been through enough cataract surgeries with friends and family to understand how startling sudden clarity can be.

More than one friend has related how shocked she was by her first look at herself after surgery. “I walked by the mirror, not intending to stop, then did a double-take after I caught sight of a strange image moving across the glass. I couldn’t believe the woman’s wrinkled up face was mine.”

For many of us, the severely clouded lenses that enabled our old lives and habits and beliefs have been stripped away, and we aren’t quite sure how to process and respond to the stark and painful clarity of new vision, or function with it. No matter which way we turn, no matter how well we think we’re adjusting, there’s always another flaw, another act of cruelty, corruption, injustice, bigotry, stupidity, selfishness, and there’s always another loss—of a loved one, or hero….

I wish I had words to ease the pain, fury, and helplessness over being assailed with such clarity, the harsh reality it exposes. But all I have is an increasing sense of urgency to more actively care for those I love, impress upon them the necessity of taking care of themselves and their loved ones, paying attention to persistent symptoms, scheduling life-saving tests, looking both ways when crossing the street, wearing a mask…wearing a mask….

That, at least, is a start.

Stay safe. Be well.

©2020 All Rights Reserved


8 thoughts on “2020

  1. Ohm dear, Barb, your sadness and sense of despair make me very sad. These are hard times when it’s very difficult to see through the darkness. But at least, let’s not forget that there is light waiting to pierce through it. Much love to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Katia, for your constant support and message of hope. Do you know Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer? It asks for, “courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.” It seems to apply more now than ever, and I take strength from its firm, but gentle guidance. Sending love to you, too, dear friend.

      Like

  2. Oh, Barbara. I feel for you. While I don’t have the beginnings of cataracts, I have floaters that drive me crazy. It is certainly ironic that these events have happened in 2020, but then so has so much. Wishing you healing and love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Nan. You are a dear friend. I’m probably going to wait until we’re post-vaccine to schedule surgery. The time is just not right now, for many reasons. But, I hear you about the floaters. They are so irritating. Sometimes I think I’ve seen a mouse run across the room, and it’s just a floater. It’s like looking through a swarm of mutant gnats. I hope you’re doing well and staying safe. Sending hugs and love.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.