Thursday, September 3, 2020

Making a Spectacle of Myself

Written by  Jim Nakoneshny

I’ve worn eyeglasses since the fourth grade, when my teacher observed that I couldn’t read what was written on the chalkboard. Over the nearly half-century since, I’ve lost track of the number of pairs of glasses that I’ve worn. Their history has followed the dictates of fashion and function through the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s and into the current millennium. There have been metal frames and plastic ones; square frames and round ones; large, small, gold, silver, blue, grey, brown and black ones. At various times I’ve sported both clear lenses and tinted lenses.

As I passed through my forties, I experienced first bifocals and then progressive trifocals in order to maximize the vision in my gradually aging eyes. I’ve never really minded wearing glasses, mainly because I couldn’t see more than a few feet without them. I didn’t have to worry about contact sports or similar reasons that they’d get in the way. Glasses were simply a part of my identity.  

The interesting thing about selecting a new pair of glasses is that you can choose that moment to help define the image of yourself that you wish to project to the outside world. “What statement do I wish to make about myself at this point in time?” Do I wish to be seen as a trend-setter, or be more conservative in my tastes? Will I choose classic or bold? Gaudy or reserved, sporty or bookish, quirky or wise, serious or light, dignified or outrageous, colourful or subdued? And as one moves through the different stages of one’s life, those choices will evolve and change, sometimes drastically. I particularly liked my most recent pair of glasses. So much so that when they eventually started to fall apart, I replaced them with an identical pair. The look, I felt, helped define the “real me”.

And then it changed. The rapid onset of cataracts and the corresponding degradation of my vision soon resulted in eye surgery with the implantation of permanent corrective lens implants. Suddenly, I no longer needed to wear glasses.

This led to unexpected new experiences. With the cataracts removed I was, like my former 10-year old self, marveling at the forgotten details of distant tree leaves and individual blades of grass. Colours were brighter, images were sharper. I could actually walk in the rain without getting my lenses spotted. My ever-more-present facemasks no longer fogged up my vision. I’ll finally be able to move from outdoors to indoors this winter without the pre-requisite defrosting of my spectacles.

But yet, that outer façade that I’ve crafted for so many years has drastically changed. I was now going into the world bare-faced (much more so in that I also chose the same time to remove my long-standing beard). It could take some time for me to get used to that change. I still surprise myself in the mirror. At times, I suspect I’ll still miss them. But, I am who I am, spectacular or otherwise…

Read 171 times Last modified on Friday, September 4, 2020