I turned 50 in November. Three weeks later I got glasses. For several months, I had noticed that driving at night had become perilous. Sometimes I'd just grip the wheel, hold on tight and hope for the best. But for some reason I didn't put the pieces together that glasses might help. I didn't know I needed glasses until one day my partner Nancy and my friend Genessa and I were looking out our dining room window towards the lake. "Look at that guy in that tiny boat out there," Genessa said and Nancy replied, "Oooh, yeah, he looks so small out there." What they were seeing to me looked like a sea otter splashing. It was then that I made an appointment with the eye doctor.
The eye doctor informed me that I am near-sighted with an astigmatism that would require me to get progressives-- distance above, close up below. I got the glasses and for the last month have been stumbling around, struggling with putting them on then taking them off. I fell down my front stairs because I misjudged the placement of the last two steps of our front porch. Part of me really thought that I didn't need glasses, that I was better off missing a few little things here and there and going without the hassle of equipment on my face.
Yesterday, I went back to the eye doctor, a month after my initial glasses consult, to get re-examined, to make really sure that I truly am a glasses candidate. This second opinion ophthalmologist confirmed my prescription and gave me some pointers about how I should be wearing progressives.
After work this afternoon I took a walk down to the lake. Last night there was a fire at the marina at the end of our street and I wanted to see what the damage looked like. I remembered to bring my glasses, knowing that I wouldn't be able to see what had happened without them. As I walked down to the lake in the dusk of the afternoon, I appreciated that I could see the coots and geese along the shoreline. I could see the detail of the cormorant's wings on the buoy beyond the coots and geese. Why was I so resistant to glasses? They helped me see in the dark. They enabled me to see nature in detail. They helped keep me safe behind the wheel.
It's not the glasses. It's the change. I've always felt healthy and unencumbered. Glasses make me feel like I've lost a bit of that. This week my 91-year-old stepfather Al decided to go on hospice. He's got a few ailments that need tending, but for the most part, he's a typical 91-year-old. He's a lot slower than he was ten years ago. He's shaky and tired. He went on hospice as a way to acknowledge the changes that are coming, the things that are happening to him, that will continue happening to him as he moves from this year to next year and beyond. My mom said that the hospice workers are affirming of his wishes. They are good listeners and respectful of his opinions and values. She said since taking the step towards hospice his energy changed, his demeanor changed. He got an oxygen tank and has been able to sleep through the night.
There is grace in leaning into change like Al has. In not fighting it, he can find the peace within it. I've been thinking a lot about Al these days. It's hard to talk on the phone with him and he lives 2000 miles away. I get reports from my mom about how things are going. I wonder how I would approach what Al is dealing with in his life right now. What I do know, what came to me as I walked down the hill seeing the lake clearly in my glasses, feeling different, knowing I looked older, more encumbered than I have in years past, is that change happens whether we fight it or not. I'll take a cue from Al and lean into these glasses, this new look. Just like Al, I'm getting older with each year that passes. To fight it will make it harder. To accept, maybe even embrace it, will bring me closer to peace.