Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Glasses

Last week I spent a bucketload of money on progressive lens, the newest generation in bifocals.  I admit it: I'm not getting any younger.  Five years ago I had 20/20 vision and I am now reduced to "librarian lady" with glasses on a pearl chain or, more often than not, glasses constantly shifting from the perch on my head to the perch of my beak.  They play havoc on my hairstyle and don't do the bridge of my nose any favors, either.  Whatever the case, I tired of this constant dance of the glasses and finally gave in to "old-people" glasses.

The ubiquitous glasses-on-top-of-the-head perch

While reading The Winter of Our Discontent, more than 20 years ago during what was indeed the winter of my discontent, I remember reading words that popped out on the page for me just like I had put a magnifying glass on them:

"Bring new eyes to a world or even new lenses and presto - new world."

I was so profoundly impacted by that quote, I wrote it down immediately.  It resonated in the deepest part of me and gave me one of those "aha" moments where I gained a deep and immediate insight. I have never lost that understanding, though I have not applied it often enough to claim to be totally enlightened.  Even so, it comforted greatly then and does to this day.

In that moment of clarity, supplied courtesy of John Steinbeck, I realized with certainty that my happiness is entirely dependent on the way I interpret my life and the circumstances therein.  100 percent.  On the day I read that little bit o' wisdom, I started to allow that there could be some joy in my life, even when everything seemed to be going to hell in a hand basket; I allowed myself the possibility that if I just tweaked the way I was feeling about or dealing with a situation, I could see it from an entirely new perspective: a perspective of hope.  I am a pessimist by nature, but this was the beginning of my road to learned optimism.

Yesterday my sweetheart took me to a 5:15 showing of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  It was a most wonderful thing to do on a Monday afternoon: entirely the opposite of what Monday afternoons usually entails.  I was full of joy at the prospect of seeing a movie (and eating popcorn!) at an obscenely early hour of the day and of the week with my favorite person in the world.  It seemed almost wrong it was so out of the ordinary.  (And I love feeling like I am doing something bad, even though it's not usually bad in the least.)

On the way to the movie, just as we were entering the toll booth to the Lion Rock Tunnel, with the theatre just on the other side, the car sputtered and died.  My sweetheart is a born optimist even in the worst of situations and I am a learned one, but we both laughed, and after the initial shock, felt very thankful that:

a) our children weren't in the car;
b) we weren't traveling at a dangerous speed;
c) the car hadn't died in the tunnel during rush hour;
d)  that a tow truck and four men in florescent orange vests were on hand to push us out of harm's way almost immediately.

Tammy Van Damm in healthier times

We hailed a taxi, got to the cinema in the nick of time, bought my popcorn (sweet this time), saw this most charming of movies, spent a lovely dinner planning a humble, but exciting retirement (see the movie if you don't understand why), and took public transportation home.  We mentioned the car (our one and only and a humble one at that) only once or twice during the course of our evening, and always in a good humor.

We were wearing our happy glasses.

Happy glasses!

Today we were informed by our garage that the engine block is cracked.  The car is, for all intents and purposes, useless to us.  Unless another engine is found in HK (and who knows what the cost will be), we will be looking through the want ads for a new-to-us vehicle quite soon.

Meantime, I hitched a ride to work with a pal this morning and the girls and we took a bus home tonight after their swim lessons.  It wasn't so bad. They listened to "Doe a Deer" on my iphone and sang along at top volume and I happily read the latest John Irving novel on my new-to-me Kindle Fire.  I kind of liked it.

I could have been cursing (and maybe I will be tomorrow), but today I am fine.  Big deal. It's a car.  (We do like her, though.  We have even given her a name: Tammy Van Damm.)  Tammy may be destined for the car heaven, but we'll be okay.  We're alive.  No limbs have been lost.  No deaths.  No dismemberment.  Just public transportation and the occasional taxi and sweet people who will offer us rides.  I can sustain that for a while.

Meantime, I pick up my new progressive lenses on Friday.  I ordered a really fine pair that makes me look quite fetching because I have never worn glasses "full time;"  I figure that they are a fashion statement if they are a constant on my face so they had better look good.  And I had better look good.  And I will.  The only problem is, we can't afford another car now.

Oh, well.   New glasses...

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