Friday, March 22, 2013

Second Sight, Conversions in the Parking Lot, and Revision

Among your favorite types of stories are those associated with the term "vision quest," in which one or more characters in various genera seek ways of seeing things as they had not seen them before.  The term "vision quest" is broad enough to take in yet another term from yet another language, the German bildungsroman, in which a young person attempts to achieve some vision of a lifestyle or understanding that will see them into individuality as a matured, ripened person.

You like and ratify the notion of the vision quest becoming a detective's attempts to "see" sufficiently into the patterns surrounding a crime or series of crimes to supply the three basic constituents of the mystery novel, means, motive, and opportunity.

A vision quest might not begin as a deliberate attempt to find a new way of seeing the outer world or, indeed, as T. S. Eliot put it of St. Augustine, "To Carthage then I came, where a cauldron of unholy loves sang about mine ears," the poetry-made-archetype of the conversion in the desert."

Your own vision quests, now that you think of the matter, are more often connected with something you've composed yourself or, as an editor, when you are looking for the most felicitous and yet clear way to suggest to an author how to see her or his work.

These things are brought to your mind by your experiences of yesterday, wherein a gifted opthamologist took step one of a two-step process related to your physical capacity to see and, thus, experience the persons, places, and things about you.

Your primary motives were to take steps to remove the effects of a condition that had been called to your attention as long ago as twenty years and which were a subject of conversation each subsequent time you had your existing prescription for contact lenses revisited.  "Nothing to worry about yet.  Cataract is a by-product of aging.  We all get them.  Your process has begun."

Last September, when the time came to renew your license to operate a motor vehicle, your left eye got you to the near-miss level.  Although you did pass the vision requirements, you'd had enough association with individuals who'd had cataract-replacement surgery to cast your decision.  Now was the time.  Yesterday was the time.  The opthamologist agreed with your choice of starting with the left eye.

You entered the Santa Barbara Surgery Center yesterday morning at 7:15, wearing only the contact lens in your right eye, one with a relative strength of 5.5.  Per directions, you'd been adding drops to your naked left eye since Wednesday morning.

Today, thirty-six hours post-op, you still wear the contact lens on your right eye.  Your left eye, recovering from the removal of its lens, the replacement with another, and a few minor incisions made to correct a pronounced astigmatism, affords you the results of a vision quest.  You are able to see at least on a par with the right eye, which for most of your life has been your stronger, more reliable eye, and with corrective lens such as a soft contact, a trusted ally in the worlds of reading, recognition, navigation, and appreciation.

At a distance of twenty-four inches from the computer screen, without your customary drug store reading glasses, you are able to read this text with your left eye as you type it.  You are also able to read the text at this distance with your right eye, but that eye requires the contact lens being in place.

In addition, the image you see from the thirty-six-hour post-op eye is crisper, whiter, seemingly more legible by a tad than the corrected vision from the right eye.  Next time you see the opthamologist, you'll ask if this has anything to do with the fact of the notation on the card he gave you describing the implanted lens as, among other things, UV with light blue filter.

Much of this description is as objective as you can make it.  You believe the effects of this vision quest of yours will manifest themselves in numerous objective and subjective ways over the next few months as your body, your brain, and your psyche adjust to and cope with these re-visions.

You're pretty certain this new lens and, in the next few months, the other one, the part two you intend to acquire, will not, as another poet put it, help you acquire "some giftie the Giver gie us/ To see [your]selves as others see us."  But you'll be better able to Read Robert Burns than ever before, with the hope that the other things you'll have seen and appreciated from this enriching experience will help you come closer.

In your last office visit with the opthamologist, when the subject of which lens you'd have installed was discussed, you ventured that you'd been wearing glasses most of your life, thus any need for an occasional use of reading glasses would be no cause for either disappointment or concern.  You wanted to see distance, you told him, to see down the road, to see what was coming, to be able to make it out as soon as possible.

What would you say, he asked, to down the road and up close.

Bring it on, you said.

He gave you a hearty clap on the back.  You have no idea what awaits you, he said.

Why start now?  You said.

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