May 1, 2024–I’m nearsighted and thankful for it.

Not being farseeing has completely influenced my life, in sometimes unexpected ways.

For those of you that can see a mole on a gnat’s nose on a barn door 100 yards away, here’s what being nearsighted is like: you can’t see the barn.

I grew up in a world where everything was blurry. It was all shapes and shadow. I was unaware I was nearsighted. I thought everyone couldn’t distinguish the difference between their 9th-grade history teacher and a grey Volkswagen. That was the year I realized I couldn’t see what the Volkswagen was writing on the board, either. I always grabbed a seat in the front row so I could make out which Civil War generals’ names I would need to forget right after the next test. It was an observant teacher who told my parents to have my eyes checked.

I remember getting my new glasses and riding home that evening. My nose was glued to the windows. I could not believe that I could read STOP signs a block away. As we drove down a street in town, I could not only see the houses, I could see people sitting inside, I could see their television sets, I could see that they were watching Gunsmoke, I could see that Matt was having a beer with Kitty, and I could see the mole on her cheek.

I felt like a voyeur.

It’s funny, after getting those first black plastic glasses, then going through contacts, from the early glass shards we stuck on our eyeballs to the daily throw-aways, then back to black plastic glasses, today I hardly use glasses unless I’m driving. I seem to be more comfortable surrounded by that familiar vague and blurry palette.

Someone told me the great thinker Buckminster Fuller had bad eyesight, and it led him to think in generalities and systems, hence his work in geodesics and systems.

Not sure if it’s true, but I think it has affected me in a similar way. I don’t understand or respect fashion, as I ignore stripes and colors and only wear clothes as a nod to modesty and convention. Don’t ask me what color to paint the living room; if I lived alone my home would still have the original fake wood pine paneling and our floors would still be covered in yellowed, cracked linoleum.

The protocol for staging a home or setting a table for company eludes me. If you came over for dinner with me, you would eat off a flat disk using a tined utensil, and none of them would match. We’d toast with our favorite beverage in various-sized Ball jars. The food itself would be a protein, a carb, and a veggie all cooked together in one skillet until reaching a trichinosis-killing temperature.

I attribute all these quirks to my not being able to see the details of the world. I think in generalities, I dream in black and white. I work on a task until it’s good enough, then I move on.

I’m fascinated by ideas, concepts, what-ifs, and large possibilities. I like dusk and shadows. Hirschfield rather than Pollock.

I’m bored by details, colors, long explanations, movies, sunsets and scenery. I know this is blasphemy, but I drove through the Willow City loop to look at the bluebonnets one time, and that was enough. I didn’t not enjoy it, I just didn’t need to see it a second time.

Maybe I would go back if there were greybonnets. Fuzzy greybonnets.