New Vision and a New Perspective

At lunch time last Thursday, I walked a little bit farther than usual for a latte. As I entered the Deja Vu Coffeehouse, I was greeted by a couple friends. "Hey Mike," yelled Seymour Sharpe from where he sat at a table with the writer Paige Turner, "are you lost or something?"

"Nope," I said, "I just came here to look at Jessica's prints again. Her photography show is only going to be up for another week or so." I ordered a cup to go, then sat down at their table. Paige gazed at my face for a bit, then asked, "When did you get glasses?"

"Just before Christmas," I answered. "I'd been getting headaches so I finally went to the optometrist. He asked some questions then said I'd been using one eye for reading and the other for long distance. After checking, he recommended either bifocals or progressive lenses."

"What's a progressive?" asked Seymour. "A political party?"

"I like my bifocals," said Paige. "I can turn my eyes without turning my head and everything's still in focus. Those others are hard to get used to."

"The doc said your eyes can get used to anything," I said to Paige. "I mentioned when I was in high school I read about a study where college students wore glasses that turned everything upside down. After a few days of disorientation, their brains flipped everything back to where it should be. He said he worked on that study in grad school! I was really impressed. He said there were problems with some student's eyes not returning to normal as fast when the glasses were removed so they shut it down. Anyway, I figured I'd wear the glasses all the time and get used to them," I turned to face Seymour, "so I got these progressive lenses with a smooth gradation between the long-distance upper part and the lower reading part. But you have to point your nose where you want to look because everything to the side sort of slips away. Columns of print are skewed and people walking by seem to fall away from me. It's kind of cool. Whatever I look at is crystal clear and everything else is irrelevant."

"Sounds like a literary technique," said Paige, "where you guide the reader to focus on certain parts of the novel, the setting or a particular character, and that becomes more important than the plot."

"Of course," said Seymour, "in a murder mystery the author diverts the reader's interest to red herrings and false motives so you have to keep your eyes open."

"Well my eyes are open but I'm not used to stuff being in focus right now," I said. "It's different seeing clearly so I wanted to see these photos again."

"They're quite oddly colored," said Seymour.

"Those are hand-tinted photographs. Jessica takes a well-composed black and white picture and then colors in pieces of it by hand. I like how the subdued colors attract your eye in a much cleaner fashion than a splash of hot pink in a jeans ad."

"I like the dog with the muted red wheelbarrow," said Seymour. "But I'm curious about the quotes. They're very poetic and seem almost Biblical, but I don't recognize them."

"They're from the Baha'i holy writings," I said. "Hey. That one would make a good resolution. 'In the garden of thy heart, plant naught but the rose of love.' That's what I'll focus on for 1999. Thanks Seymour."

"Thank your friend, Jessica," he said.

"I will, but she'll probably just say, 'Thank Baha'u'llah,' which I will. Happy New Year."