Thursday, November 20, 2014
Seeing, believing more closely related than you know
I was just testing my vision. I thought something was wrong with my right eye.
It happened when I was helping my son locate the correct windshield wipers for his car, and pulled my glasses from my jacket pocket so I could read the guidebook attached to the store shelf. With my glasses on, nothing came into focus — in fact, my sight was worse with them on.
I closed my left eye, and my right seemed useless, just a blur. I closed my right eye — and suddenly I could see clearly with my left one. With both eyes open, though, everything once more became a blur.
“Something’s wrong with my eye,” I said, and I must admit to a kernel of worry; I read and write for a living and for fun, and the prospect of a vision issue unsettled me.
I closed the right eye and used the left one, aided by the glasses, to find the windshield wipers Nathan needed. Then I told him we should find his mom, who was wandering around elsewhere in the store, so I could tell her about my vision problem.
As we walked through the aisles, I kept putting on my glasses — all a blur — and taking them off again, trying to focus with and without them, closing one eye and then the other. Winking, blinking, and nodding. Yep, my right eye was definitely messed up.
Here’s the Zen question that occurred to me then: If seeing is believing, then what is not-seeing?
I found my wife and told her the story I just told you, and she gave me a blank look, like she suspected I was punking her. I put on the glasses to demonstrate, and did the right-eye-shut test again, and again, only my left eye could focus.
“I think I see the problem,” my wife said as she poked her finger through the empty frame where a lens should have been and touched the lid of my closed right eye.
Immediately, I reached into my jacket pocket and found the missing lens.
“You’re lucky I’m a medical professional,” she said. “I can say with some confidence that you are not having a stroke.”
She laughed, and added that she couldn’t wait to tell this story to everybody she works with. I won’t tell you which body part her sister laughed off when she heard the story.
In my defense, our son didn’t notice the missing lens either. But that’s just because I suspect he’s as oblivious as I am. Besides, just how was I supposed to know there was something wrong with my glasses if I couldn’t see them?
That’s got to be at least as understandable as the guy who thought his family was giving him the silent treatment when, in fact, his hearing aid battery had died. (For the record, that was not me.)
From this perspective, seeing and believing became synonymous. And believing I couldn’t see made me blinder than ever.
I’m pretty sure there’s a useful life lesson in there somewhere, but it’s probably so obvious that I’m overlooking it.