As a young child my eyesight was very poor. Anything more than six inches from my nose was out of focus. To me, the world looked like one massive Monet painting, varying shapes and colors blurring into each other and making up a patchwork landscape. Nothing was distinct. Nothing was crisp. Nothing had definition.
In third grade I received my first pair of glasses. The lenses allowed me to see the chalkboard, but not much else. You see I also had a strong astigmatism. The optometrist did not prescribe glasses to provide 20/20 vision as he was trying to correct this other problem. So even with spectacles I was left in this softened world. My world of imperfect vision kept me distant from others. I did not see the world they did so I could not share in their experiences. My clouded, hazy, shadow world kept me distant, kept me from experiencing a full life. There was so much that I missed in life because it was all blended together. I didn’t notice details – I couldn’t see them. My only refuge was to turn inward.
Finally after thirteen years living in a world that fell out of focus once it passed my nose, I finally received a pair of glasses that allowed me to see the world that had been blocked to me for so long. I remember leaving the optometrist’s office and stopping in my tracks. I could see each individual leaf on the tree outside. I could see each unique brick on the building across the street. These sites were never available to me before. It was as if I stepped into a whole new world. This was an exciting world. There was so much detail to see in every moment. I could see people’s facial reactions when I was speaking to them. I could notice intricate details. Beautiful images formed in how colors and shapes and textures worked together. I began to feel connected to others. I began to leave my inner world, the only one I could access before, and I began to experience the larger world.
I am grateful for my gift of sight and also for my gift of blindness. Blindness allowed me to become more in tune to my intuition and my inner sense. The gift of sight opened my eyes to the world outside of me, to the details, differences, uniqueness, and interconnection of people and cultures and nature.
This experience has also provided a window to handling my current life and struggles. The old, blurred world I used to see without glasses is the same I experience when I am stressed and anxious. My head clouds over. Events and people blur together. I do not recognize the unique moment I am in. I do not experience “the now,” to quote Eckhart Tolle. Instead everything moves by in a blur. Everything is meaningless and fleeting. The current moment is minimized by the fear or anxiety of the future or by a regret of the past.
When the stress blurs my mind, I take a moment. I look at a leaf, a unique leaf on a tree that has hundreds. I study the leaf, tracing the veins running through its soft papery surface. Perhaps there are small bug bites apparent in one section. I study how the colors on either side of the leaf are different or how the hint of fall has begun to brown its edges. Once I have fully seen all the details of the leaf, I look at it as the part of the whole of the tree. The unique leaf still remains present, but I can see how it is also just one section, one unit of the tree; a unique identity that is also a component of something larger. In taking this moment to reconnect to the intricate details of life and recognizing how all parts lead to the whole, I am released from the blindness of anxiety and relax into the current moment.