Friday, March 20, 2009

Eyesight as Opposed to Vision

When my wife was a teenager and living in Jakarta, she lost one of her eyes in a car accident. I say "one of," because I cannot actually picture just now which one it is. One does not really notice it, and this is not only because of the medical competence nowadays in supplying artificial eyes, but also because of the competence of her own personality and self esteem. The fact is, I did not know she had only one functioning eye until she told me so.

In this way, among many others, she is an inspiration to me. She complains not at all, never even mentions this deficit in vision. And here I am thinking myself unlucky for having to have cataracts removed--missing the immensity of the difference between a corrective surgery and the traumatic loss of an entire eye.

Life is a challenge from the outset--physically, emotionally, spiritually--and the individual personality either devotes itself to overcoming or to complaining. It is perhaps the central delusion of living that life itself should be without trouble. We are surprised at adversity, though it stalks us relentlessly from the cradle to the grave.

Those who are hardiest among us are those who understand that life is not a stroll in the park but a struggle to attain the end of each day with our faculties intact, to borrow a phrase from JD Salinger.

I may sometimes find myself lamenting the damage I have suffered from MS instead of acknowledging amazement at the capacity of my body to heal itself. In other words, I appreciate misfortune while making myself blind to miracle.

And so I remember my wife's spirit, her resolute refusal to be defined by anything other than her own hopes and dreams.

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