MYOPIC AND ASTIGMATIC OBSERVATIONS
My recollection of many things past (as well as a few things present) is about as clear as what I can perceive without eyeglasses through extremely myopic and abysmally astigmatic eyes. Optometrists say that without state-of-the-art lenses I am legally blind. I can see everything within my field of vision, but what’s not directly in front of my face has no distinct outline or colour. It’s blurry. That’s about the same as my past. It’s all there but it’s blurry.
Since becoming a senior my peripheral vision about the past has definitely dwindled. I’ve decided that what’s still sticking to the barn walls of my brain is what’s really important. All else is inconsequential. Therefore I have come up with three “rules to live by” which have become reinforced in my mind through many attempts (very often futile) to live up to them.
I’ve always liked Rick Hansen’s slogan “be the best you can be with what you have” although it’s a difficult one to follow even when you don’t have a disability. (My disability is inertia — especially in winter.) What Rick accomplished as a paraplegic in a wheelchair during and after his Man in Motion tour around the world, is in my mind an ultimate in modern-day achievements.
One precept presented itself in about 1986 while I was engaging in a heated debate with my daughter. She’d embraced the vegetarian lifestyle and hadn’t imbibed animal products for months. For me — raised on moose meat in the BC Interior — vegetarianism appeared to be an abomination of traditional values, as well as a health hazard. I argued fervently in favour of roasts, steak and hamburgers while she lauded the attributes of broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes. When we paused for breath I happened to notice her glowing complexion, eyes and hair. I thought to myself, “ Hey, we’re both relatively healthy, so what’s the problem?”
We hung up the gloves after that and I dredged up the slogan: “Just because I am right doesn’t mean that you are wrong.” I think it makes sense.
The third axiom that remains in my mind is from one of the many Shirley Maclaine books, which the author reamed out in the 1980s, about her search for enlightenment. I forget every word on all of the printed pages, except for one conclusion that Shirley had reached: “A problem is only a problem if you perceive it to be.” That simple phrase almost blew my mind. I’d been under a lot of stress at the time because of my son’s illness. It was a relief to realise that at least a few of what I had considered to be insurmountable problems were actually challenges.
Another good thing about being a senior is that younger people are inclined to respect what you have to say — even if you don’t really know a thing.