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Losing sight of what’s unimportant.

Posted in Aging

burning-man-2012-nevada-balck-rock-desert-shark-car-2011-by-scott-london-449x301I am really not seeing too clearly right now, literally. And perhaps figuratively. But I’m not even going to try and pursue that thought. I am too damn tired and my usual clarity isn’t there. Perhaps it is just end of year fatigue. Or maybe I’m experiencing some sort of existential crisis, I can’t be sure. Last night I ate blue cheese that had me running all night …  it may just be that.

As a side note: food poisoning is a succinct definition of hell.

Back to the literal: I need two different incarnations of glasses to get me through the day. One for close work, the other for driving and TV. It’s exhausting keeping track of both pairs. Apparently my eyes are flattening out – so there is no chance of corrective surgery. They will just deteriorate until I wear glasses full time. I am not thrilled about this development. Being half-blind makes me feel vulnerable. Exposed and uncoordinated. I can’t bear not being able to read on demand. I hate the patting of all pockets to see where my specs are. I torture myself with thoughts of being trapped somewhere sightless. Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with the slaves.

I have resorted to keeping a spare pair in my car. Some of those cheap ones you get at the pharmacy. They have blue suede frames which remind me of German tourists in the nineties. I used to mock them at airports and now they’re me. I bought them in Stellenbosch one afternoon, when I went to a hipster joint for coffee and couldn’t read the menu. My waitress watched as I dug around fruitlessly in my bag (can’t see to look properly), and eventually directed me around the corner. The sales assistant pointed to the cheapie display and offered: “maybe it’s time to get your eyes tested.” Which irritated the shit out of me, so I grabbed the first pair I could at my strength  wanting to get away from her twenty-five year old tattooed smugness.  “TWO”, she exclaimed.  “… tsk tsk tsk, you really must get your eyes tested.” I resisted the urge to whack her across the back of her head (don’t know why – she had it coming), paid my $5 and headed back to the coffee shop. Only to find my glass case, replete with glasses, on the table where I had been sitting. I looked at the waitress: “Oh”, she said “I saved your table for you.” “With my glasses?” I replied. “Yes”, she said happily “… so someone would know you were still sitting here.”

Just exhausting.

Cat windowIt took me forever to wrap Riley’s birthday presents on Thursday. I realised halfway through that I couldn’t see the end of the sticky tape, so had to go find my glasses which took me five minutes. The end of the sellotape roll was ripped to shreds and even with the glasses, I could figure out how to make it work. After ten minutes of that, I cut a bunch of little pieces and hung them over the counter and they kept curling up on themselves. It was an exercise in frustration – one that shrieked – “you are getting OLD”. It may have been my niece’s birthday – but I was the one ageing. Which even I could see.

Anyhow. Back to now. Everything seems to have moved an inch to the left. I have to concentrate to focus. And there is no reading anything under 2 feet high without the glasses. I have resorted to asking strangers the price of things in the garden centre when I walk Jack. They chuckle: “can’t see anymore, eh.”  I smile and nod.

What this sideways shift in focus means is that I need new lenses. Three new pairs. And those are going to cost me around $1300. $1300 I would rather spend doing something fun. But I’m a big fan of trying to identify opportunities for gratitude. So there’s this: not being able to see so well means I address just the broad strokes of how I look. If I don’t have a +25 magnification mirror, it’s all a crap shoot as to where my makeup lands anyway. The one I have now is broken and cracked from being hauled around the world for the past decade. So I prop it up in my bathroom, put on my make-up in the morning, keep it minimal and hope it stays in place during the day.

10530901_10152210125078144_5315359096596830928_nAs I was doing just that this morning it occurred to me: I don’t spend any time scrutinising my skin in the mirror anymore. Which means there is no temptation to interfere with imperfections. As a result, my skin is clearer than it has been in years. And I wondered: is this is a life lesson? Maybe having waning sight is a blessing in disguise. It stops you trying to see everything clearly. It allows you to leave some things undisected. It forces you to let go of perfection. Which in turn creates simplicity and clarity.

Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being. I have spent years agreeing. But I’m not so sure I see it that way anymore.

(Picture of Shark Car by Scott London. See more of his Burning Man Photography here. Other images found uncredited on Facebook.)

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18 Comments

  1. Elma
    Elma

    Just treat those glasses a useful fashion accessory,follow Eddie’s advice and ignore your brother’s comment!

    November 26, 2014
    |Reply
    • sofagirl
      sofagirl

      Done, done and done.

      November 26, 2014
      |Reply
  2. Only the last year or so have I owned up to the fact I can’t read everything in bad light anymore. I have bought 4 or 5 pairs of cheap reading glasses and scattered them around (1 in the living room, 1 next to my bed, 1 in my backpack, 1 at work, 1 somewhere else). I needed them only in bad light and most of the time forgot I have them. Never went to check my eyes either. I mean, I am managing fine… At the moment I am changing jobs. I am so excited to start working in my new job, in a map library. But the credits are printed terribly small on maps… It is humbling and terrifying not to be able to read the tiny details! Maybe I am going to visit an optician in the near future.

    November 25, 2014
    |Reply
    • sofagirl
      sofagirl

      Love it – but baby – hate to tell you this – you are going to need to make friends with your optician. Enjoy the ride. We;re all on it together.

      November 26, 2014
      |Reply
  3. I have required specs since childhood, with a prescription so strong that I have always needed to put them on to find my way to the kettle each morning. I also now have two varifocals – (a) one optimised for distance and (b) the other for computer work/ reading/household chores. I have to have (a) on to go outside. TV is a stretch with (b), but I’ve chosen to put up with it. These are my rules:
    1) B is for inside only. I never take it out with me. I try not to wear A inside.
    2) I only take A outside. That way I never have to swap specs on the move
    3) Both specs live on a side table close to the front door. If one is being worn the other sits on the table. I always know where they are.
    4) In case of emergency I have an old pair in the bathroom so I can wear something while searching.
    5) Where I am lucky is that I can see close up without glasses. In fact I prefer to read a book / kindle without glasses at all. So strictly I don’t need B on the move – I just take A off when I need to read something close.

    November 25, 2014
    |Reply
    • sofagirl
      sofagirl

      Damn Hedgie you are organised!

      November 26, 2014
      |Reply
    • sofagirl
      sofagirl

      I have been instructed to ignore you.

      November 26, 2014
      |Reply
  4. As one of those German tourists, I can’t but…. ROFL!

    But, seriously, it is disconcerting this eye business. Since I hit forty, my eyes have been getting worse and worse. I had a very scary moment a couple of months ago when they just refused to focus. It passed after ten minutes, but it panicked me no end 🙁 Soon I’ll be ‘graduating’ to having to use two pairs. Sigh.

    November 25, 2014
    |Reply
    • sofagirl
      sofagirl

      Heh heh … and the shapes were beyond bizarre. My eyes hit the skids the day I turned 45.

      November 26, 2014
      |Reply
  5. silvia
    silvia

    Sooo hilarious but I think you need some time to simply do nothing and enjoy it

    November 25, 2014
    |Reply
    • sofagirl
      sofagirl

      From your lips to God’s ears xx

      November 26, 2014
      |Reply
  6. This post had me laughing out loud! Wonderful. I finally gave in and acquired a pair of multi focals. Cost a whacking €496 but so worth. Now I just need to get progressive lenses for my sunglasses and then I can conquer the world. Or rather, check my phone and spot a hunk without looking obvious when I’m out.

    November 25, 2014
    |Reply
    • sofagirl
      sofagirl

      Holy Shit – I would have to take out a second mortgage. Checking the phone or the garmin involves a series of manoeuvres that endanger everyone around me

      November 26, 2014
      |Reply
  7. Amazing perspective and one I share with you. Simplicity and clarity won out and that’s a good thing. 🙂

    November 25, 2014
    |Reply
    • sofagirl
      sofagirl

      Also – when you have your head in a toilet bowl, it’s better not to be able to see clearly. Metaphorically and Literally speaking.

      November 26, 2014
      |Reply
  8. winston moreton
    winston moreton

    Personal Accessories;
    1. Keys
    2. Phone
    3. Sectacles (reading/driving – tinted/clear)
    4. Hearing aids
    5. Walking Stick
    Not to forget the handbag.
    Socrates missed out on the lot.

    November 25, 2014
    |Reply
    • sofagirl
      sofagirl

      I have 4 + 5 to look forward to. Love it

      November 26, 2014
      |Reply

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