Thursday, November 22, 2018

Depth Perception

How's the old vision lately?
My eyesight has been deteriorating since I turned 50. At first I just wore glasses for driving; it’s a good idea be able to tell the various villes (Montgomery, Millers) and burgs (Harris, Gettys) apart on expressway exit signs. But then the “distances” I needed to have in focus shrunk. I remember attending a high school production that featured a couple of my students, without my glasses. It was like seeing everything through a lens smeared with Vaseline. After watching the actors cavort onstage for two hours, I wouldn’t have been able to pick out a single performer in a prison lineup.

So now I’m having issues with things that are up close too. Often I am confronted with reading something aloud from a small-print publication. Pastor Bill recently asked me last minute to read the Prayers of Intercession from the church bulletin. I stumbled over the blurry words as if I’d never encountered the English language before (Jesse? No, Jesus. Jeremiah?) I now opt for the large print bulletin on Sundays, just like my age 80-something friends.

But the weirdest eye thing has been my messed up depth perception. This is evident when I pull into a parking space. I later notice that my car is a good solid foot back from the other parked vehicles. It is also a problem when I am sitting in the front passenger seat. Suddenly, it seems as if the driver is about to either hit the median, or go off the road entirely. I find myself leaning waaay over in one direction or the other, willing the car to straighten itself out. I used to tease C when she hesitated to drive because of this exact same eye problem. Karma, as they say, bites.

I’ve been thinking about depth perception as it relates to how I experience my fellow humans: why is she being so distant? What did I do wrong? Why is he sooooo close? He’s smothering me! I take off-the-cuff remarks as searing criticisms, and don’t notice when something is said that I really should take to heart. I write off certain people as “shallow” and exalt others as “deep,” based on superficial observations.

Leaning one way or the other doesn’t keep a car on the road. Steve is not really about to hit that truck he’s passing. It’s my eyes. And, like my attitude, they need to be adjusted.

We live in a time when perception is taken as reality, so we have multiple realities all over the place. When your preferred internet echo chamber conflicts with mine, who is right? We need to get back to verifiable facts, to doing our homework and finding information sources that can truly be trusted. Then, maybe, we can learn to trust each other again.

So let’s come to terms with our vision problems. There is a cure, if we are not too stubborn to embrace it. Let’s find a pair of glasses that shows how things REALLY are. And wear them.

I can see (more) clearly now

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