So I was reading a book last night, enjoying the crisp view of the text on the page thanks to my new eye (with the aid of one of multiple pairs of new reading glasses), looked down at my arm holding the book, and saw snakeskin.
What once -- some decades ago, apparently -- had been smooth and supple, now looked wrinkled and scaly. Like the arm of somebody's very elderly grandmother. Startled and distressed, I closed the left eye with its fine new cataract-free lens, and looked at my arm through the yet-untampered-with right.
Not exactly smooth and supple, but sure enough, no snakeskin, the wrinkles smoothed by the patina of time clouding the lens whose days are numbered.
As I explore the new world that has opened to me through the miracle of cataract surgery, I'm making all sorts of discoveries. I can actually read street signs. I see distinct leaves on trees, not just green blobs, and the petals on flowers. People's faces as they approach me. It's great.
I also see how much gray really is in my hair. The sad state of my neck. The bags and dark circles under my eyes. And snakeskin covering my arms and hands. I'm getting a view of myself as others have been seeing me.
That's less great, if you come from the ignorance-is-bliss school of self-awareness. And for me, valedictorian of the oh-my-god-if-I've-missed-this-what-else-is-wrong College of Worry, troubling indeed, but maybe also a kick in the pants.
I know that just because I can't see or experience things first-hand doesn't mean they don't exist. I accept that dogs hear sound frequencies I cannot detect. I believe it's cold at the south pole even though I've never been there. Anyone who believes in a higher power takes on faith all sorts of truths for which the knowledge is second-hand and the evidence circumstantial.
But my cataract surgery has brought more than flowers and dust formation into clear focus for me. It suggests that the clouded vision that allowed me to believe my hair doesn't show all that much gray, might extend to many other aspects of my relatively comfortable, complacent little life.
Because my clearer new vision will be not be worth much if I don't bring a clearer head into the equation.
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