2020 Vision


As the dust from moving house settles after the holidays amid whiffs of freshly painted walls and new furniture, I’ve been contemplating my word for 2020 while looking back at the significance of my choice for 2019. According to my rough calculations in scrolling back on this blog, I’ve been picking a special word since 2013 or so that began with One Little Word. That’s seven years of farsighted intention that has always been prophetic by New Year’s Eve.

Which brings me to my 2019 word, “Light.” It was a heavy year, judging from my few posts, highlighted by plenty of dark times. Ironically (or not), my physical sight began to noticeably dim last year, especially when I travelled to London and struggled to view Turner’s murky paintings in archival lighting. When I finally made an appointment with my eye doctor in August, I was stunned to find out that I had advanced cataracts and my vision had deteriorated dramatically over a year’s time. Because I have been extremely myopic all my life with a very high-powered prescription, the cataracts were causing blurriness that could no longer be corrected with glasses. Eye dryness has also prevented me from wearing contacts for decades so the only solution is to have cataract surgery at the ripe old age of 59 and corrective lenses implanted.

Obviously too young for Medicare, I still qualify for insurance coverage because my vision is so blurry that I haven’t been able to drive for the last six months. When I finally got in to see one of the best ophthalmologists in the state, my eyesight had deteriorated to the point that I was quickly fast-tracked to the “3-month” waiting list. Meanwhile, as a plein-air artist who was finishing a 4-year grant project by creating distant landscapes and holding a final art show, I struggled to see what I was painting and more than once had flashbacks to Monet’s foggy work in his later years due to cataracts. After touching up four years’ worth of art for the final show, I stared at the 25 paintings on display while wondering how shockingly bright these will look after my surgery.

Which brings me to 2020 wondering if I will be able to see 20/20 on the eye chart when I finish the surgeries in February. For my entire life I’ve never been able to see distance without glasses, and my blurred view of the world has both protected and isolated me from the harsh truths and prejudices buffered by my thick glasses and gullibility. And while my long distance vision may be restored, the near-sight that I have relied on for so long will be gone. The tiny veins that glisten on a dragonfly’s wings and the intricate maze of threads while detangling a knot will disappear into the lost lands of foreground without reading glasses or magnifying glass, so close yet so far.

No matter what the outcome, my focus and perspective have begun to turn inward in these grey days of perpetual twilight. The harsh artificial lamps glow with angelic halos and the sun has become gentler in what he reveals. The moon is welcome but ghostly now, and often tripled in a sky out of a science fiction movie. The senses of touch, smell and sound have become more amplified, and when night comes, the womblike absence of light surrounds me in a waiting period of gestation before the post-surgery grand re-entry and big reveal.

So it will come as no surprise (especially if you read the last post) that my word for 2020 is REBIRTH. I am prepared for a whole new world of light and color, sharp insight and fresh point of view. The little crossed-eyed infant from the past will get a second chance to take wondrous halting baby steps into my third life stage. And perhaps in life’s theatre I will prefer the balcony this time rather than a front-row seat to the world’s troubles. A little distance at my age may not be a bad thing while I cheer the young on in their noble causes and fortuitous frays without craving the spotlight myself.

After all, the bright lights would only blind me from the inner path I now need to follow.

8 thoughts on “2020 Vision

  1. Oh, heavens. It sounds as though 2019 was a horrible year for you! I am stunned at all you’ve been through. And very sorry. Please do try to write a post after your surgery, whenever you are able, so we know how you are doing. I will be hoping for great outcomes.

    1. Overall, 2019 was a mix of extremes but a lot of much-needed life lessons were learned, mainly based on me finally focusing on what I want and need to be healthy and fit for the world we live in now. No regrets. Thanks so much for staying in touch, Maureen. I will keep in touch.

  2. Sorry things have gotten so bad. I am looking at cataract surgeries myself, but it is still a ways off. Actually when I was first diagnosed a couple years ago, my cheery eye doctor reassured me that cataracts could take ten years to develop so it was quite possible I would never need the surgery. That is the kind of encouragement you can look forward to when you reach your seventies. The only good thing I can say about having it come on so quickly is that at least you will avoid years of slow decline and be able to move forward quickly. Fortunately for me, I like soft-focus art.

    Vera and I are thinking about you and hoping you will get quickly past all your major problems this year.

    1. According to the eye specialists, I guess cataracts can happen at any time and at any age, but since I win the prize in the near-sighted category, it’s almost a sure bet that I’ll be an early candidate even if I’m not as far advanced as most. Your good wishes are much appreciated and I’m sending back the same to you and Vera. Have a great 2020, year of the Metal Rat, of which I am one. Another lucky sign perhaps!

      1. Ah, another Rat person. I’m an Earth Rat. Will have to stay around a long while if I want to see that Rat come around again. May it be a special year for all Rats and a good year for everyone.

  3. Shirah

    I’m still weighing the last entry you posted about your less than light filled experiences of the past few years.
    I hope your Rebirth will offer you a world of light and startling, new, clear vision. Betty Friedan wrote that she never saw the world so well as she did after her cataract surgery.
    And it’s remarkable that you’ve produced a body of work from these challenging years.
    I wish you the best for this new year of rebirth and look forward to hearing about your changed window to the world following the surgery,

    1. Thank you for your insights as I always value your artistic eye and perceptions, Shirah. It will be interesting to see how my changes in vision will affect any artwork I produce and how I will feel about seeing the world more clearly. Thinking of you and your loved ones in your part of the world during these tense times. Wishing you all the best in 2020.

  4. Pingback: Year of the Rat – Suburban Satsangs

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