Thursday, March 13, 2008

the persistence of vision

When I was a child I had poor distance vision, that probably accounted for some of the problems I had in school for some time before my parents realized I had a problem. One day when I was ten, we were on a hike, and my father pointed out a old dilapidated barn in the distance across the fields. Except, my response was "what barn?" I literally could not see it at all on the horizon. The first pair of glasses was miraculous -- I had no idea that one was suppose to be able to see individual leaves on the trees. The world was suddenly so sharp and clear. While I never forgot how it felt to suddenly see the world with clarity, I had never had the same feeling again -- until now.

Once you know what the world is suppose to look like the shift between no glasses and glasses becomes part of the "taken-for-granted" and can not surprise you, in the way I was surprised as a child. But once again I have experienced the miracle. While I knew I had cataracts, and was aware that they were affecting specific tasks -- like not being able to read road signs, and having trouble with working at the computer -- I had forgotten what the world as a whole was suppose to look like.

the artificial lens implanted during cataract surgery to my right eye has given me 20/20 distance vision in that eye. I had no idea that one was suppose to be able to see the individual branches on trees on the hillsides or the details of rock outcroppings on the mountain tops. Each morning that I drive to work is like a fresh miracle -- the world has so much detail that I forgotten!

Even the frustrations I've been having with near vision (reading computer screens, papers and books) as I wait between surgeries are a form of blessing. It's helped me walk a while in the shoes of some of my students. I now know what it is like to have someone thrust a paper in front of you that you simply cannot read. I appreciate their plight even more, as I recognize that their frustrations are permanent while mine are temporary. Once my left eye is operated on, inexpensive reading glasses will solve most of my problems.

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