Love in the Time of Tyranny: Blindness

I’m turning 35 this year and I think my eyes are failing me.

I’m happy about that – it means I need to take care about that to which I give my attention.

Part of it, I’m sure, comes from the fact that I spend too much time on screens. Hours at work staring at my computer monitor; hours in videoconference meetings staring at super-bright LED TVs; hours playing Solitaire Tri-Peaks staring at my still too bright dimmed iPhone…

There is a physical aspect to the fact that I may need to go to the eye doctor for the first time in my life. That said, my “failing distance” is still markedly better than most, and if I wear my computer glasses and take a break occasionally, it all mostly settles back into normal, so, now that I have your attention, let me talk about the real vision changes… you know, the ones that I’m happy about.

I thought I used to know what a good relationship looked like. We all think we know that, off the bat, right out the gate. It suspiciously looks like what our parents had / have. It suspiciously looks like what our first intimate relationships were like.

You know what? That’s right. It is. It’s what you know and feel to be familiar, and if you are fortunate enough for that to be enough, then you’re fine. Read no further.

For the rest of us, however, calling it suspicious is well-warranted. What we take to be familiar – what we take to be normal – what we are spoon-fed, either at home or in daily life – while generally good enough, fundamentally, may not be good at all, may not be sustainable in the long-run (not without great cost), and if you really get a re-do, may not be the thing you choose.

My vision has been failing me for years, but only in this last two have I really noticed. My sharp vision of what love and caring, intimacy and affection, whether that is in friends or more, has started to get fuzzy – blurred, even, dust and blank spots! – and things like…

  • Someone getting upset with me because I didn’t respond to a text fast enough
  • A friend responding with sarcasm and dismissal because I was busy at work
  • A date finding a way to diminish my joy in my work
  • Someone attempting to invite and host people to my apartment without my permission

Were magically, unequivocally, no longer acceptable to me. No one gets a free pass anymore. No one gets to say things like “this is just how I am, you need to deal with it.”

I don’t.

Instead, as this previously acceptable vision of how one must relate to others, friends, lovers, family, coworkers, everything, has now been replaced with…

  • Spending time with people who don’t need to make mean or mean-spirited comments and jokes about others to feel good about themselves
  • Having a person in my life who genuinely enjoys my company but also doesn’t need my company to feel whole
  • Freedom of speech; freedom of self; freedom of expression; freedom

I once had the eyes of an eagle, of a hawk – a bird of prey. I used to be able to see a thread out of a place on a shirt canvas that was bright and white. But, I was so blind to the things that mattered; I was blind to even seeing myself.

Now, I’m probably a handful of years away from glasses moving from being a fashion choice to a fashionable necessity. I’m sure I’ll whine about it a lot when that day comes. But, if that was the trade for what I now can see – how I can parse through the people that really care for me versus the ones that I don’t, that I can now give and receive deep, and true, care in a relationship, and feel respected and heard and cherished–

Well, easy cost to bear for having the load on my shoulders lightened.
Easy price to pay for something that is priceless.

Once I was blind; now, I see.

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