The Dr. asked me to close my eyes as he slid my first pair of glasses past my 5th grade ears and onto my nose. He requested I look out the window as I open my eyes.
Blinking repeatedly, I looked out across Lincoln Avenue onto the bricks of the old Union Bank across the street. Individual bricks were suddenly visible as was mortar between them. A stunning view. Colors, shapes, and textures came into focus. Even as I write this, I can remember the sensation that ran through my body as the entire world developed before my eyes.
On the way home peering out the side window of our yellow Subaru, individual leaves took shape. Where one leaf started and another ended was evident. Strikingly beautiful clouds appeared out of what had been grey and white smudged skies. The world came alive.
As we passed a house with a basketball hoop hanging over the garage, it occurred to me how much better I would be at basketball now that I could see the rim and backboard with such clarity.
We pulled into the garage, but before going inside, I excitingly grabbed the basketball to try out my new specs.
As it turns out, I had learned to play the game with a distorted view. Every technique and skill for shooting a free throw and doing a layup had vanished with my newly corrected vision. All the muscle memory I had developed around that black and orange rubber ball was suddenly a hindrance rather than a competency.
With frustration mounting, I took off my glasses and took a few shots. Nothing but net.
Later in life I had another similar experience.
My world was imploding, and I began seeing a counselor. She helped me understand why life had gone so far off the rails. She gently provided me with new emotional lenses.
The hardest thing was I didn’t want to believe her. She kept gently giving me the opportunity to look through another lens, but I was certain the old distorted view was accurate because it was the way I’d seen things for so long.
In truth, I was terrified. Could I handle the contrast of the old lens and the new? Would the clarity be overwhelming?
With great patience and care, my emotional optometrist helped me see the beauty of living with healthy transparency and vulnerability.
She helped me discover where I end and other people begin. What a gift to find that with an accurate view, love is kind and open-handed. Protection, seen though a clean lens, is freeing rather than imprisoning.
Until then, I believed that I was at risk unless someone else created safety for me. My emotional experiences consistently relied on what someone else was feeling.
Just like my new glasses, this new life was beautiful but disorienting.
The healing lens brought painful truths into focus. These same truths eventually brought me great freedom and empowerment. Over time, I relearned how to dribble, shoot and block a shot with my glasses on. I was ultimately much better at the game when the court came into focus.
When we’ve become so used to a distorted view, no matter the beauty that may come with clarity, it can be frightening. I can assure you, it’s worth the risk.