Some things you just have to learn yourself.
Like when the eye doctor used to say, “After you turn 40, your eyes will change. We’ll re-evaluate your prescription at that time.”
I just smiled, nodded my head and thought, “Oh, doctor, you don’t understand. I’ve worn glasses since I was six. I’ve always been far-sighted. My vision’s been messed up for years. It won’t be changing again.”
Forty came and went.
I was proven correct.
Forty-one. Still correct.
Forty-two. Still correct.
And one day, just before I turned 45, I went to adjust the thermostat and thought, “Hmmm, what’s happened here? The battery must be weak, because those numbers are so faint I can’t read them.”
I went to take a shower. I picked up one of the many identical bottles in the shower and checked to see if it was shampoo or conditioner.
Lo and behold, I could not tell.
The optometrist had been right after all.
Even still, I wonder why hair product makers insist that the words “shampoo” and “conditioner” be the smallest words on the bottles. Do they know anyone who showers with their glasses on?
Worsening vision affects aspects of my life that I didn’t anticipate. Even getting the new glasses turned out to be a challenge. I sat in a chair, in front of a mirror, with a stack of new frames. As anyone who’s ever tried on glasses frames before knows, the frames have dummy lenses. For the visually challenged among us, how are we supposed to see what the prospective frames really look like on our faces?
I developed a solution. I sat at the desk and tried the frames, one by one. As I was wearing each frame, I nonchalantly attempted to use my phone to snap a quick picture of myself. Twelve frames later, I put my real glasses on and looked at the pictures on my phone to figure out which pair looked the best – as opposed to staring vaguely in the mirror at my fuzzy image and ultimately trusting the judgment of the technician.
I don’t believe there’s much I could or would have done differently had I believed the optometrist from the start, but had I been wiser, I would have been more emotionally prepared for this new phase of life.
Such is the nature of youth. Most of us are so full of our own time — and our place in that time — that we can’t appreciate the wisdom of those who have walked further down a road than we have.
Long ago, when I heard about a minor ailment or condition of someone a generation or two ahead of me, I often shook my head and chuckled internally. I thought they were making much ado about very little.
Like my mother-in-law used to say, Asi como te veo me vi, asi como me ves, te veras. That translates to “The way I see you, I was. The way you see me, the way you will be.”
The depth of truth of that statement is often lost upon those listening. However, when you’re the one saying it, you understand perfectly well what it means.
Some things you just have to learn for yourself.