About four years ago I started complaining to my then'girlfriend that I had to hold books, newspapers ' anything with words on it that I needed to read ' a good arm's length away from my face to clearly see what was printed.
She just shrugged and said, with little thought and no discernible sympathy, "You probably need to get bifocals."
The word "bifocals" had the same effect on me that "nursing home" or "knee replacement" might have had. It was like being slapped across the face with a battery-filled support stocking.
Bifocal lenses were for people who were too old to care. I still felt too young to be saddled with what I thought was the most obvious age-showing accessory outside of a cane.
As with most things that made me feel icky in that relationship, I shoved it to the back of my mind until it was too obvious to ignore.
My need for bifocals became too obvious to ignore hot on the heels of getting my iPhone and using a Kindle regularly. Moving back to Glenville sped up the moment of clarity's arrival, since my initial boredom and loneliness had me turning to these two objects for nearly all my emotional needs.
After a while, I was ready to go into couples' therapy because neither device was giving me what I needed without my first expending great effort for very little in return.
Thus, the day I realized that my glasses were perched on top of my head more than they were on my face, I made an appointment with an optometrist. Half an hour after my exam started, I was picking out frames based mostly on which size would accommodate the new "look" I'm now doomed to cultivate.
Writing about this in a column today is a little premature, as I won't be picking them up until Tuesday afternoon, long after the deadline had passed. But it's not difficult to imagine what this event will bring and how I'll deal with it.
It's weird enough to get used to seeing oneself in new glasses - or with a new haircut, or wearing makeup once a year - so I have no doubt the first bump in the road will be finding the nerve to look at myself in the mirror without recoiling at the stranger looking back at me. This, of course, might be tempered by the fact that I probably won't be able to see much of anything very clearly at first.
With this in mind, I may use this experience as a springboard for raising my consciousness. What could make examining the world around me more fresh and objective than having to strain to observe everything I encounter? Why not make the bifocals both a conduit for mindfulness and a metaphor for "seeing the world through new eyes"?
And until I have to drive to the Family Dollar for a gallon of milk, I'm sure nobody will be in any physical danger while I get a grip on this inevitably altered perception of my surroundings.
I imagine there's some trick to wearing bifocals with any success. And I will probably "Google" it to see what the best trick out there is.
The question is: will my new glasses help me read it? Will I be squinting at the screen? Or will I impatiently shove my old glasses back on for one moment?
That remains to be seen. Or not. Like moving through life more smoothly, it will depend upon whether I remember to look through that secondary lens.