Am I glad to see you. As a matter of fact, I’m glad to see anyone. Or any thing. You see (no pun intended) I’ve been having some trouble with my eyes lately. They’ve had a rough five years or so, with my squinting at a computer screen all day in my office and then coming home and squinting at a screen while I wrote. To add to the problem, I thought I was too busy to get my eyes checked and about a year ago my barely adequate glasses become totally inadequate.
Nature does have ways to talk to us however. My eyes started to hurt and I’d see little flashes of light sometimes and guess what? Then I found the time to get to an eye doctor. He prescribed some strong computer glasses and supported my getting special yellow lenses to help with the overdoses of blue light I was getting and, as far as I could see, things got better.
Then, I moved and they started to get worse again. At least, the pain in one eye returned along with an annoying itching, mostly at night. So I sought out a new optometrist who listened to my saga and spent a lot of time looking at my eyeball. It appeared that somewhere along the way I’d scratched my cornea, and I’d treated my eyes so badly ever since that it had not healed. So I got put on a regimen of eye drops and ointments. Both of my eyes like this attention and feel better, although my symptoms haven’t totally subsided. I see the eye doctor again in February.
The experience has made me see how much I rely on my eyes. I live in the country and need to drive for groceries, along with everything else but air and water. I live to write, and while I know there are ways to write fiction without vision, I’m not sure I could ever manage them. I’ve put a lot of recent effort into fixing up my new home. Much of it has been to make it look nice, for me, and to emphasize its mountain views that I love. Would I even want to live here if I could not see? The other thing I yearn for is to travel and see the world. Would I even want to go if I was blind?
I had reason to consider some of this when I was trying to describe Ariel’s gift as I wrote d4. She sees the future. To me, that means that she literally sees images in her head. Of course, someone blind from birth could also have knowledge of the future. This lead me to consider whether Ariel simply saw things, or knew things as well. They say that “seeing is believing” but we all know that seeing and knowing are two different things. I decided that Ariel did both. By the end of d4 blindness became an element of the story I was telling, in ways I had not expected.
While I was writing d4, I was also enjoying a TV show called Covert Affairs and one of my favorite characters in it was Auggie, a CIA agent who was blinded while on a mission in Iraq. I was moved by the way that the character combined his frustration with strength and competence. He never made blindness seem easy or trivial, but he also showed how those without sight can contribute and enjoy life.
Now that I’ve given some serious thought to how important my eyes are to me, I’m resolved to take better care of them. They are going to get rest, and good glasses and time off the computer and all the eye drops they want. But, as I see it, it also won’t hurt to let Auggie inspire me a little, letting him take the edge of my fear of going blind. Better care. Less paranoia. Both should make a difference, right? I hope so. We’ll see ….