Miracle. All of it.

Spring has finally arrived, and it makes me smile every time I step outside. New green leaves are pushing themselves into the sunlight as plants build the solar panels that will fuel them throughout the year. The first spring flowers are already in bloom, and a bright showcase of cheerful rainbow color is rapidly replacing the gray-brown palette of late winter.

I love the constant small surprises as new flowers appear. But each new sighting makes me wish for a superpower: the sort of expanded vision that could show me all the colors these flowers have to offer. Human beings can see some of them, and birds and bees can see a little more. But the potential range of invisible colors is mind-boggling, and science is only just starting to get a grip on it.

Our color vision is neatly summed up in our perception of a rainbow, sweeping from red, the longest wavelength of light that our eyes can detect, to violet, the shortest. But we can’t detect each shade individually; in order to make sense of this continuous spectrum of colors, we use a clever shortcut. Our eyes have three types of cone cell that respond to different colors—red, green and blue. Our brain figures out how much of the light that we see falls into each category, and it recombines that information to construct the myriad colors that we register. It is both beautifully efficient and frustratingly crude…

~Helen Czerski, from Colors That Only Bees and Birds Can See


Notes:

  • Photo: Spring Flowers by Paul.
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

All of it is really just absurd and seems improbable

“While working on my first novel, I developed Central Serous Retinopathy, or stress-related vision loss in my left eye. Doctors said it was imperative that I relax, but I wasn’t about to give up my passion. Then it hit me: the absurd reality that writing a book robbed me of my sight. The human brain is powerful enough to send a man to the moon, yet, writing nearly blinded me. In that moment of clarity, I realized that reflecting on the sheer absurdity of existence was key. Now, whenever I find myself overwhelmed, I sit back, pet my dog, and count the innumerable bizarre occurrences that had to happen just so in order for me to be sitting in front of my typewriter at that moment: the highly volatile mixture of elements that exploded into our universe; the curious Tiktaalik fish that thought, What’s on that dry stuff?; and the fact that my mother and father, millions of years and coincidences later, graciously decided to make another human. All of it is really just absurd and seems improbable. Once I’ve reflected on that for a while, writing hardly seems impossible and I enter a state of repose, grateful to get back to work.”

— Michael A. Ferro, author of TITLE 13 in Writers Recommend (Poets & Writers, July 12, 2018)


Image Credit

It’s beyond belief to step outside and see so little, just a milky haze

edward-hoagland

Blindness is enveloping. It’s beyond belief to step outside and see so little, just a milky haze. Indoors, a smothering dark. It means that you can’t shed a mood of loneliness with a brisk walk down the street because you might trip, fall and break something. Nor will you see a passing friend, the sight of whom could be as cheery as an actual conversation. Sights, like sounds, randomly evoke a surge of memories ordinarily inaccessible that lighten and brighten the day. “Who are you?” I may already have asked 10 people who have spoken to me. Their body language as well as their smiles are lost to me. Human nature is striped with ambiguities, and you need to see them, but like a prisoner, I am hooded.

I lost my sight once before, to cataracts, a quarter-century ago, but it was restored miraculously by surgery. It then went seriously bad again, until, reaching 80, I needed a cane. Tap, tap. Ambulatory vision is the technical term.

Everything becomes impromptu, hour by hour improvised. Pouring coffee so it doesn’t spill, feeling for the john so you won’t pee on the floor, calling information for a phone number because you can’t read the computer, or the book. Eating takes considerable time since you can’t see your food. Feeling for the scrambled eggs with your fingers, you fret about whether you appear disgusting. Shopping for necessities requires help. So does traveling on a bus. […]

How many of us have watched a possum “play possum” or a goshawk swoop after a blue jay? We feed pigeons and hummingbirds, then have done with it. Nature has become a suburb. Of course I can’t see the cardinal at the feeder out the window, though tidal forces still operate. The leaves natter even if you can’t see them. Your ears report their bustle, ceaseless until dormant for a span of moments. The pulse in your throat signals that in your torso all is well; it will beat till it quits. That concordance of organs lives within us like sea creatures throbbing on a coral reef, strung there as on our skeleton as long as conditions allow.

Novelty is the spice of life and salts our daily round even when we lose our sight. Your eyes don’t steer you as you saunter, yet your lungs, legs, arms feel as fit as ever. For simple exercise, I hoist myself out of each chair, or bicycle in bed, though then unfortunately may pick up two completely different shoes and try to squeeze them on. My socks don’t match either. But why am I not crankier? a friend asks. I’m helpless; I can’t be cranky. Blindness is enforced passivity. I have become a second-class citizen, an object of concern. Crankiness won’t persuade people to treat me thoughtfully. Disabled, that dry term once applied to so many others over my lifetime, now applies to me. As best I can, I’ll make my peace with it.

~ Edward Hoagland, excerpts from Feeling My Way Into Blindness (NY Times, 11/20/2016)


Notes:

For the deepest moments in life—for love, for prayer—we close our eyes. I wanted to see that way

howard_axelrod

(Two years in the woods.) I brought no computer, no television, no cellphone. There was a land line, which rang maybe twice a month, so a wrong number was an event…

Five years earlier, during my junior year at Harvard, a freak accident had blinded me in my right eye. During a pick-up game of basketball, as we scuffled for a rebound, a boy’s finger hooked behind my eyeball and severed its attachment to my optic nerve, the cable that connects the eye to the brain. The pain was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. There was nothing the doctors could do. The loss of vision to my right eye was permanent. With vision in only one eye, there’s no stereopsis, no depth perception. And without depth perception, the world looked simultaneously flat and permeable, like I’d crossed the threshold into a fantasy land, where nothing was solid, including my sense of myself…

To compound my disorientation, after the blood dissipated, my eye looked as it always had. The gap between how I presented myself and how people saw me widened into a gulf. And the track I’d been on, which headed toward law school, and the old track of my thinking, which often allowed the comfort of achievement to substitute for meaning, and which had kept me from entering into the passing landscape to forge my own values, became impossible to live by… [Read more…]

No more tears. Here’s to good outcomes.

tear-drop

It’s a ritual before bedtime.
Nightly.
Now running for 14 months.

I stand in front of the bathroom mirror.
Take a deep breath.
Raise my left hand to pull down the lower left lid,
Raise my right hand to apply a thin stream of the prophylactic.
And if I had a third hand (and was a Believer),
I would make the sign of the cross, look to the heavens, and whisper:
Work your magic. Please.

Sodium Chloride Ophthalmic Ointment.
Generic Brand.
40% cheaper than the Name brand.
Found and bought on Amazon.
Produced in Lake Forest, Illinois by some unknown bucket shop.
You are one strange dude. You don’t think twice about the risk of a no-name eyeball lube bought on the web but refuse to buy generic Raisin Bran cereal at your local Stop ‘n Shop.

Apply every 3 to 4 hours, or as directed by Doctor.
Ophthalmologist’s instructions were nightly. And nightly it is.
For temporary relief of corneal edema.
edema: the collection of excess of watery fluid.

But that’s not the real pain point.
Which is… [Read more…]

Sunday Morning: Hy Snell

“Get Old” Hy Snell, 94 from Variable on Vimeo.


“Hy Snell, 94, is an energetic and awe-inspiring gentleman. When asked how he felt about aging, Hy couldn’t even comprehend why we were interested in the topic. It was as if “age” didn’t even exist in his world. For Hy, “age” has had nothing to do with his joy and contentment in life. His immense passion for creating artwork has kept him moving forward without looking back for over seven decades despite his ongoing battle with failing eyesight. At 94 years-old and a dwindling 5% of his eyesight remaining, Hy continues to find inspiration due to the fact that he is literally seeing things differently every day. This fact spoke volumes to us since it is relatable on so many levels. In summary, Hy truly is a living testament who proves that each road block, as tough as it may seem at the time, can provide tremendous opportunity for growth and prosperity.”

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