The optometrist scribbles onto his clipboard, and the scratches of his 0.3 black pen sharpen gradually as I blink through the thick lens. The “optometrist goggles” are on my face, a thick slab of glossy black plastic with silver knobs, grey indents, and glass circles that arch outward to look like two mechanical butterfly wings. Before he delivers the final verdict, a porcelain mug is delivered into his hands by his secretary. Thin translucent tar threatens to spill over the cup’s mouth as he shakily takes it into his hand. His Adam’s apple rises and falls as it streams down his throat, scorching the sides of his esophagus because it’s still too hot. He sets the mug down and clears his throat, I imagine, because tar is sticky and he’s trying to wipe away the discomfort in his mind after consuming more than five times the daily recommended amount of caffeine.
“You’re 500 degrees nearsighted. You can’t see things very well. You’ll need to fix your vision,” he declares and then shamelessly excuses himself to the bathroom. He slips out the door as his hands slip into the pocket of his white coat. I watch him extract box that I mistaken for Campbell’s soup at first, until I realize that it’s not logical and I notice a lighter balled up in his other fist.
I’m nearsighted. I wonder how he can say that. He’s the one smoking more than three packs of cigarettes a day and drinking five 16oz mugs of coffee. Two empty cigarette packs are tangled together in the trash can. I may have hazy eyesight, but he’s the one who can’t seem to see his health three years into the future.
To my misshapen eyes that can’t bend light correctly, borders blur and objects dissolve together in big fuzzy hugs. There’s no hostility between the door and the wall, they sit in each other’s realms and are free to escape the borders that divide objects. Light becomes glowing orbs of color that float around like free spirits. My vision doesn’t need to be fixed so I can see things the way everyone else wants me to see them. Glasses sharpen segregation and confine plates, desks, people, and ideas into their tiny allotted space.
By medical diagnosis, I have myopia—nearsightedness. Without my glasses I walk into walls, think a face is a potato, and trip over the curb. But still, the more dangerous nearsightedness is the inability to see the consequence of your own actions. Situations that are generally viewed as problems can also be benefits when viewed in a different light. My inability to read words at fifteen feet grants me the ability to see a different world. It’s not my disability. Clarity of sight isn’t limited to being a physical phenomenon. Mentally, being able to distinguish the fine lines between actions that lead to repercussions and rewards seem like a much more significant ability. Too bad the doctor who specializes in vision can’t even see that fact.