I love how my glasses help me focus. Without them I’d be unable to see my yoga mat at all, let alone a tiny drishti across the room to help me balance.
That said, without them on, there is something intriguing in the blurry, bleary world. The distinctions between people and objects fade away and colors blend, as if someone spilled water on a painting. Words and letters smear into meaningless splotches. Focus on one thing is impossible. Vague enveloping by everything is inescapable.
It’s not unlike Stranger Things’ Upside Down – fortunately, with fewer demagorgons. It’s like my normal world, but off, and full of weird distortion.
The world without glasses is kind of scary, too. But it’s a good reminder not to be too cocky or sure of ourselves. What we see comes from reflected light into eyes that is perceived by our brains. Any part of this process could be flawed, or if not flawed, at least skewed by our own perspective. Even if our eyes are the right shape, our mental prescription might be out of date – our mind-made glasses that we have used to focus this crazy, unpredictable life.
I was reminded of that recently upon watching the fabulous movie “The Greatest Showman” – which really is “Hamilton” with less rapping and more elephants. A creative soul is born into poverty and adversity, but climbs to the top through sheer determination and ingenuity. He marries a kind woman above his station and manages to disappoint her in her dreams of being an integral part of his life. He nevertheless makes things that inspire and impact the future (even if that future in Barnum’s case involves a lot of elephant abuse.)
This formula is not uncommon in biopics of many kinds, however, because it makes good narrative sense. And although life doesn’t always, we can relate to our thwarted childhood dreams coming to bite us in the butt later on.
We create our own glasses for the bleary blurs in our childhood, and see progress in our lives through them: I will be good/useful/happy if I’m popular/witty/pretty/whatever. It works for awhile, but then like most glasses, the formula gets out of date. After their initial success, Hamilton and Barnum both need to slow down and appreciate their families, but they can’t check their determination. Sorrow ensues. Both need to make new ways of seeing through the blur, new “glasses,” in order to successfully progress into middle age.
It might not be an embarrassing public scandal that makes us realize our prescription is old, it might be a slow burn of angst and irritation with the way things are. I suppose that might be where mid-life crises come from. We’ve made lenses before, but now it’s harder. Now we think we have it all figured out. We are less flexible. But now is when we need to craft a more nuanced, more complex lens than ever before.
I think that’s why I like YA literature so much – it’s about people who know they are still figuring things out – when in actuality we all still are.
In the spirit of that flexibility, I get into a yogi squat – a position that is really hard for me due to years of abusing my knees and not stretching enough. You squat way, way down, almost to the floor but not quite. A child could sit like that easily, and in a way it requires recapturing the elasticity and agility. How will you get out? For me, it’s an awkward process that involves grabbing the yoga mat. But that lack of grace won’t stop me from trying to make my way in and out of it – and when those ways fail, I will try to try to find more. If all else fails, I’ll don my top hat and anachronistically hip hop until it all becomes clear.