I’m not sure my eyes are working properly anymore. Of course, they never have. All I have to do is take my glasses off for a moment to realize how lucky I am to be alive now because in another era I would have blundered into a tar pit. I would have been stomped into salsa by a mastodon. I would have died young but at least I would never have seen it coming.
I should have my eyes checked again. But it’s been less than a year since the last exam and I can wait. It isn’t any one thing, anyway. Seems like I’m always trying to navigate around the smudgy bits and exploring my trifocals for areas of clarity in any given situation. Supposedly I have a cataract that no one is in a hurry to do anything about. I also have enough floaters that in certain lights it’s like I’m living in an aquarium, which isn’t so bad. The only place it’s really annoying is at the piano. I wonder if I can get sheet music the size of the old Dick And Jane book we learned from in first grade. We sat in its shadow. Four kids could make a fort out of that sucker without even using blankets.
I like to think of my eyes as having “let themselves go.” That’s the expression people use to describe old people who have flat-out given up on trying to be something they’re not. I guess it’s meant to be derogatory. Seems to me if you’re an old woman who rolls out of bed and into a muumuu and scuff slippers, you’ve got a good grip on things. Mostly no one describes me as having let myself go because it implies I was holding it together before, and there’s not a lot of evidence for that. Comfort, Sloth, and I are a mighty team, and Vanity doesn’t have a shot against us when we stick together.
Some things I can see more clearly now, in this life pause we’ve been given. Our isolation is not without its blessings, especially with the stripping-away of diversion and trivial pursuit. So much of what we do is designed to distract us from our eventual, unimportant demise. We acquire mindlessly, we manufacture conflict. We’re desperate and diligent in filling up our lives, we feed our rage and our fears. We complain about our busyness and yet we feed that too. We don’t like to think about our lifetimes contracting. But there’s no getting around that. There’s something to be said about knowing what’s important, and a lot of unimportant stuff needs to be moved out of the way to see it.
What we need to do is let ourselves go. We’re the ones in our way. Every best joy is simple. We all need things for simple survival, and we should do our best to see that everyone gets them, because right now the winners and losers are determined by a game of dice. But we don’t need much–not nearly as much as we imagine. Rejoice in good food. Rejoice in food at all. Go outside. Stay inside. Play music. Play at all. Make art. Make out. Make up. Everything is bigger than we are, and that is the biggest comfort and joy of all.
I rejoice in weak eyes that can still see, and I rejoice in you, and in everything that still wings and still slithers and still sprouts on a still-green earth. And I’ll fight for all of these tomorrow, but today I’ll let my thankfulness for it all roll through me. Gratitude is another word for peace.
That much is clear.
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