Today’s topic is, as the young people might say, kinda random.
It might seem that it comes out of nowhere, but there have been a couple of occasions this week that stirred me to give thought—and thanks—to something I often take for granted.
First, it was while I was editing a brochure on eyeglasses that it struck me how utterly dependent I am on something so small, yet so brilliantly invented. Then a casual conversation with someone whose eyes are as bad as mine brought it home.
I started wearing glasses in sixth grade. There wasn’t a fashion accessory much cooler in 1971 than octagonal, wire-rimmed frames. Now I can’t find the alarm clock in the morning without my beloved specs.
I always wondered what it would be like to lose them. How would I survive? One day I had the chance to find out and, although it was 10 years ago, the memory still conjures panic.
My husband, son and I were on vacation in Aruba. The first day, I slipped on some jagged rocks, tearing up my whole right side. I was so covered with bruises and open cuts and was so sore that I could barely walk.
The second day, we took an all-day boat excursion around the island. The Jolly Pirate turned out to be an overcrowded party boat offering all the rum punch you could drink and some guided snorkeling, neither of which appealed to me. I had tried snorkeling only once – on our honeymoon, an island vacation that, in addition to a bad snorkeling experience, brought me intestinal flu, bronchitis and severe sun poisoning.
In Aruba I decided to give snorkeling another try. The boat had made several stops during which I had stayed aboard. The last stop, at the deepest point in the cruise, was the site of the featured attraction—an old shipwreck. The guide gave me some special goggles that fit tightly over my glasses so I could see under water. I lasted about five minutes, decided I still hated snorkeling and swam back toward the boat. As I was climbing the ladder, I pulled off the goggles and away went my one and only pair of glasses, flung far into the deep blue sea.
Immediately, my husband and son and a few people who were around to witness my mistake swam around to search for the glasses, but found nothing.
I sat there, on the edge of the boat, blind, disoriented and by then a little seasick, facing eight more days in Aruba. I didn’t have a spare pair, or a written prescription. I didn’t even have prescription sunglasses; all I had were clip-on shades with nothing to clip them to.
Bruised, blind and crying, I could not imagine how I’d get by another minute, let alone a week. We’d have to go home.
Someone brought my plight to the attention of the guides, who had helped themselves amply to the all-you-can-drink cheap rum over the course of many hours in the hot sun. I dismissed the idea as futile. Just then, the jolliest and seemingly most rum-soaked pirate guide took a swan dive off the side of the boat. He stayed under water a good long time, without a snorkel, and came to the surface with my glasses.
I was without my sight for only about half an hour, but it was almost as if I could see my whole life pass before my eyes. Or, in this case, not.
The morals of this tale: Travel with a spare pair and a copy of your prescription, don’t prejudge a jolly pirate and give thanks for the things in your life that give you sight.