Thursday, January 2, 2014

Visioning and re-visioning

New Year’s Day, 2014

The sun shines brightly, today, out here on the mountain, the last snowfall melted away, the air cold and brisk, anticipating the next wintery mix set to arrive tomorrow. Today, however, it will warm-up enough for an afternoon walk with my friend, Linda. “Yippee,” she texted me, a few minutes ago. Soon we will be off on a mountain road hike.

How happy this is for us, a few hours into our New Year, 2014!

Privately, there is still time for my personal reflections before we set off, time for me to continue that annual check-in with myself, begun when the sun rose this morning on a new year. Somewhat like a Jiffy Lube visit for my car.

Time, still, to continue an annual review, ushered in by the New Year. Time to check-in, briefly, on the condition of this vehicle I am driving that is my body, mind and spirit, transporting me through this life I am, now, living. And, sort out, in my mind, where we should be heading; destinations being important for me. Perhaps, too important, I sometimes think.

I have, however, become adept, over the years, at balancing and re-balancing. Like an auto mechanic rotating my tires. So, today, I am slowing my pace to check-in with myself, seeking to find the realistic and practical and wed these to my hopes and my dreams.

Immediately, I am reminded how grateful I am to be able to SEE this New Year with two eyes; the left eye seeing almost 20/20, the right one legally blind. Yet stable and clear enough for me, at least, to see my way to cross the road, provided the left one checks for traffic first.

I am incredibly happy, grateful and relieved for this sight of mine, so often threatened, since my junior year in college. That was when I was forewarned I’d be totally blind in six months. But I wasn’t for a long, long time. Yet one never knew.

The hereditary eye disease I have, keratoconus, frequently shows up around college age, placing all who have it on the track of a lifelong roller coaster ride; frequently interrupted hopes and dreams, projects incomplete. Through one’s thirties, the disease is prone to speed up development. By forty it may stop progressing entirely. That is how it was for me. Still keratoconus can be tricky.

Nonetheless, without conscious note, I am still inclined to take the sight I have for granted. I forget, temporarily, that I have given much of my time and energy over the past three months (October – January) to fighting for this eyesight of mine.

I am ready to rush into this day and the New Year ahead with great hopes and dreams, now that the holidays are almost past. I want to plan my next steps and the ones after that, as if 
I’ve had only a mild cold. No big deal. But it was a big deal; this fighting for my eyesight, once again, these past three months. With the situation righted, for now, I ask myself, how does one balance blindness potential. After all, it may or may not occur?

I am fine today, right? So, what is the proper perspective here -- for realities and practicalities -- for hopes and dreams?

I want to “get over it,” rush on to the next thing and the next. Instinctively, I want to put the ordeal and the threat it carried aside. That’s the pattern I followed throughout my twenties and early thirties. At that point, four cornea transplants, almost back to back, slowed me down, big time; four cornea transplants that, in my mind, brought only dark clouds to “rain on my parade.” As for a perspective that being blind, or not, can make a marked difference in one’s life, I was determined to ignore that!

Had I paused, as the situation necessitated, there might have been only one transplant, not four. But that is all water over the dam; lessons to be learned from past mistakes.

Now, as I reflect on those days past and what I’ve learned, sharing more and more of the tale that is “Hot Pants, Motorcycles and K Street,” it is almost certain that you, the reader, as well as me. the writer, will “see,” loud and clear, that my “Ms. Success by day, suicidal by night life” was, in part, profusely fueled by the denial I was living. That blindness was imminent, at any moment, had to be ignored. I believed survival demanded this of me. I would not pause! I had a life to live. And, a BIG one at that!

Anyway you cut it, keratoconus is one Hell of a burden for a twenty something! And, as for most of us, my life, at that point, had many other complications.

But dead center into these crises, I believed I had to grab it all, right then and there, lest life and opportunities pass me by. Today I know this view to be a core element of “urgency addiction;” the hurry up mentality that infects our society.

Washington ran on it, then, and still does now.  Denial and urgency run together on the D.C. fast track, minimizing the significance of an individual’s healthiest needs, human priorities horribly skewed. Blindness can take many forms.

Here, on the D.C. fast track upon which our nation’s politics roll, not seeing the essence of genuine human, baseline needs is the currency of day-to-day life.

This is a way devoid of the trees, fresh air, sunrise and sunset. In today’s world, as then, very few of the senses are touched on the Washington fast track scene by the sacredness of life such as the woodpeckers and cardinals, visiting my bird feeder, bring.

Over time, I learned to balance my priorities, then chose to live a quiet, country life, visiting the D.C. hub, only when necessary. Other former D.C. “fast trackers” also live nearby. I/we wouldn’t trade this life for a million dollars or more.

Now, there is no more “suicidal by night” for me.

I sleep really well. With balance and without urgency to drive me, I am still looking for hopes and dreams to be realized. 

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