I found my mind wandering today about life as I see it. Some days are good, some make me unusually giddy and carefree, and some are merely the boring reincarnation of a tedious yesterday. We are all guilty of imagining our lives are either better or worse than any or all of those around us. It is all about perception and it is not always as it seems. When I was 24, I was given a rare insight into one specific interpretation of perception. And, as usual, it is a good story to prove a point.
My driver’s license was due to expire so I went about the annoying task of renewal. I hit the BMV office at 8:00 a.m. sharp so I could be first in line and was asked to immediately take my eye exam. On cue I placed my eyes on the viewer and followed the directions of the office staff to read Line 5. I rattled the letters off decisively when this woman squinted a bit and said, “No, I asked you to read Line 5.”
Knowing full well I had just read Line 5, I spit out the six letters again. “Okay,” she proceeded in a doubtful tone, “Let’s try Line 4.” Again, I focused and named the five letters on Line 4. Without pause, her doubtful tone turned to kindness. “Maybe you should put on your glasses for this test." Well, well… this just became interesting because at the time I did not wear glasses.
Maintaining a kind demeanor, she suggested perhaps it was just early, I was not fully awake and decided to let me take the written test first to allow my eyes to better focus. When finished I returned my test to the counter, but my eye-test judge was nowhere to be found. A young man took my test and asked, “Did you take your eye exam?” I answered calmly, “Yes I did.” I mean, after all, he did not ask me if I had passed the test, right? Within minutes, he took my picture and I scurried out of the office with my receipt in hand. Totally unnerved, when I got to work, I immediately made an appointment with an Optometrist.
The eye doctor was also illuminating. Once his exam was complete, I heard, “I have some good news and some bad news, which do you want first?” I asked for the bad news. “You need glasses.” Not overly surprised I then asked, “What’s the good news?” His reply was epic: “Jacque, there are leaves on the trees, and I don’t think you’ve ever seen them.”
I will never forget the first day I wore my glasses. The detail in my vision was both exciting and frightening. How did I ever do anything with any precision? I had no idea I truly could not see. Being nearsighted, I could read just fine. But anything past the end of my extended arm was a blur. Today, I can still read without my glasses. I cannot, however, back out of my driveway safely without them.
Life is really just like that, isn’t it? Anything within our immediate radius is usually clear as a bell because we view it through a very focused lens. But, outside of our precious family circle, we are blind as bats. Our perception of what goes on has to be blurred at best. We are guided merely by the perceptions of others within their own circles – driven by hearsay, intuition, and opinion. My analogy goes like this: the trees were unbelievably full and almost fluffy without glasses. But with them, they were intricately detached. Some leaves were green, some yellow, and holding them all together was a fabric of sticks that I could not see without help.
So, I urge everyone to not presume, or judge, or ridicule without a pair of glasses. Most of us see what we want to see, and I would be foolish to think the agitation of others could possibly halt with a little common sense. But, sometimes, looking at a world blurred by innocence is still the good news.
Oh, and blurred vision even works brilliantly when looking in the mirror. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
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