Vision


I got my new bifocals today,
Such is the fate of the myopic forty-one-year-old
I stopped myself halfway through dialing your phone number
To tell you about them,
the brace for my knee and the orthotics for my shoes.
We could have lamented the declining body together.
As I held the phone in midair, I thought about the new pair of glasses
that you purchased a week before you died,
And how much I miss our conversations,
And how I wish I had called more often and talked longer.
I understand now what you said about the high price of vision.

Life is a gift. Sometimes it is hard to see that. Especially if we are among the blessed and the privileged.

I was listening to an interview on NPR on my way home from work. The host of the show was speaking with a fireman from the town of Coaling, AL. Coaling is a very small town, basically a cross roads and a railroad track, just east of Tuscaloosa. I know about it because my brother’s mail gets delivered to the Coaling post office. My brother says there is nothing left of Coaling, AL, today.

The fireman who was being interviewed had rushed in, with his wife, to get their three sons and try to find some kind of safe spot during the tornado outbreak. The wife managed to grab the youngest son. He grabbed the middle son, and just as he reached for the oldest son, the tornado sucked the wall of the house—and his son—away. After the tornado passed, the dad was astonished to see his dazed son walking toward the concrete slab that had been the site of their house.

What was remarkable to me was not so much that the child managed to survive the tornado and return home by looking for the light from a flashlight that his dad was holding, but that the father, who was lying in a hospital bed recovering from injuries obtained after being struck by a washing machine, was so incredibly upbeat and thankful to be alive and to have his family around him.

Life is a gift, and we should live life, thankful for the amazing opportunity to wake up and indulge in it every day.

Sometimes it isn’t until we lose a life near and dear to us, or almost lose our own life, or lose every nonliving thing around us that we realize what a gift life is.

One way stories like that can affect you is to make you less likely to complain about an annoying coworker, higher taxes or lousy customer service. Or, maybe the more important way stories like the one from Coaling, AL, can affect you is to make you live your life more like a two-year-old getting a brand new box of crayons and paper. That two year old is excited to have that gift. Thrilled. That two-year-old colors vigorously, filling the whole page, and that two-year-old is eager to share that gift.

So, before it’s too late, make that phone call. Write that letter. Go to that band concert or soccer game. Color outside the lines. Unwrap your gift and dare to live boldly and graciously. Share. Help. Bend over to pick up a person in need.

Hindsight is indeed the most costly kind of vision. But giddy, joyous foresight is completely free of charge.

©2011 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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