From a Distance
Fun fact about me: I wore glasses for nearly two decades. In 3rd or 4th grade, my mother noticed that I had failed, and then passed, the school’s eye exam. Suspicious, she brought me to Pearle Vision in Countryside Mall, where it was confirmed that my vision was not exactly 20/20. The day I picked up my big mauve frames (this was barely into the 90s, mind you) and walked out into the parking lot, I said “I can see the individual blades of grass!” Yes, there is grass in a parking lot in Florida, in the little medians. Anyway, my mom said she nearly cried, because she found it so touching that I had no idea what I was missing out on.
Fast forward to 5 years ago, when I am working in Vegas, as a singer for Jubilee! (Exclamation point part of the show name.) I have long since switched over to contacts, but it’s getting harder and harder to wear them. I’m taking out my contacts between shows, and since my eyesight is now really bad, I have to wear my glasses perched on the end of my nose, so as not to be hit by my gigantic fake eyelashes. Showgirl-librarian. I decide to get LASIK surgery, which I won’t describe because I really don’t like to think about what they do to your eyeballs. The LASIK is a grand success, and I throw away all my contact solution, stow my old specs deep in my nightstand drawer, and am continually amazed by the act of waking up and reading my alarm clock in the morning.
Two weeks ago, I went in for a long overdue eye appointment. I was for some reason fearful that I couldn’t see, that I was going to need glasses again, that the effects of the surgery had worn off. And the wonderful optometrist at American Eye Care told me that what I really needed were focus lenses. A pair of glasses that I would use exclusively for working on the computer, which I (and basically everyone else) do a lot of, and reading.
He told me that as human beings, we evolved to be able to see long distances. Our eyes aren’t intended to do the kind of close detail work that we do for hours on end. Looking too closely for too long puts a great strain on our sight. Not only that, when we life our heads and try to see something at a distance again, it’s often unclear and blurry.
If this isn’t a gift-wrapped metaphor for this blog, I don’t know what is.
We are meant to see the big picture. We are meant to take it all in. We are meant to see something far off on the horizon and say “That. That’s my focus.” We are designed to take in the sky, the sea, the swell of a mountain range. Getting too caught up in the details is a trap; we get stuck inside a box no bigger than a monitor screen. “Can’t see the forest for the trees” is in our biology; if we linger too long on the trees, the forest is inevitably hazy.
I wrote this post wearing my new-new glasses for the first time. I’m grateful that they will help me work on the computer without strain. But every so often, I’m going to remember to look up.