Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Eyes Have It

Those of us who are “coming to terms with middle age” (the original title of this blog), especially women, commonly suffer from a special strain of “mirror shock syndrome.”  Our own bathroom mirrors seem to have some kind of magic associated with them.  We get up in the morning, brush our teeth, floss, shower, dry our hair and drag a brush or curling iron through it, slather on the war paint, adjust the jewelry, smile…and walk away thinking, “Okay.”  Gone are the days when we thought we might attract an admiring nod from a male stranger (under 75); but we can, and do, content ourselves with “Not bad.  At least I won’t scare any small children I meet in the grocery check-out line…” 
And if we’re lucky, we’ll get through the rest of the day without catching an unexpected glimpse of ourselves in a department store mirror, plate glass window, or, god forbid, a security video.  Sans the flattering boudoir lighting, and adding to the equation the portion of our bodies from about the tops of our busts to our feet, we can be seriously unnerved  by what we are certain cannot possibly be images of ourselves.   

“When did my gut start sticking out farther than my boobs?”

“How long have my legs looked like I sawed them off at the knee and reattached them blindfolded?”

“Cripes.  My hands look like alligator skin.”

“Good lord…  Who is that woman with the droopy eyes, saggy jowls and all that gray hair?”

And that scariest moment of all—when you look into a mirror and see…your mother.

I deal with all that on a daily basis.  I don’t let myself think too much about what I look like these days, because if I did, I’d probably go hide in a closet and never come out.  On some level, I understand that one’s changing appearance is simply the price one pays for the privilege of long life.  So I try not to let it bother me.  But sometimes I just cannot believe that the person I see in the mirror is me.

Still, there are other physical changes associated with aging that are WAAAYYYYY more annoying than starting to look rode hard and put away wet.  Don’t we all love the hot flashes, the gastric disturbances, the leaking, the sweating, the belching, the farting.  Sometimes it seems like I can’t take myself anywhere, anymore. 

But,  let me ask you this:  If somehow you came across a genie who offered you the chance to undo—for the rest of your  life—ONE age-related  physical change, what would you choose?  Wrinkles?  Gray hair?  Saggy boobs?  Elephant knees?  Alligator hands?

I know exactly what I would choose.  I would want my eyes back.  Not how they look—I couldn’t care less about the bags or the crow’s feet or even the saggy lids. I want my eyeballs.  The ones I had when I was eighteen.    

I desperately hate that I cannot see worth a damn anymore  Of course I wear glasses, annoying things that they are, and have done for probably twenty years.  But I always thought that “corrective lenses” should do precisely that—correct poor vision.  Unfortunately, glasses do little more than make it so that I can see “well enough.”  Whatever that means. 

I detest that I don’t have unlimited range of focus anymore.  That I have to bob my head up and down like a chicken in a barnyard in order to identify  which field of my bifocals will provide me with the closest to decent image of whatever I’m trying to look at.  I hate that when I look at anything that is backlit—like a songbird on a branch or a hawk soaring above my head, all I can see is an indistinct grayish silhouette.   I hate that I can’t walk on the beach and transition effortlessly between scanning the sand for shells and searching the horizon above the waves for pelicans and gulls.  It drives me crazy that I fall off curbs, trip on stairs and kick cats across the room because my  brain disregards the blurry images it receives through the bottom of my bifocals if I’m not consciously looking down at my feet through the top part of the lenses when I walk.

So, while I’m not really interested in surgery to make me look younger, if they ever came up with an operation that would restore my vision to its youthful clarity, I would be the first one in line.  Every five years, every year, every month, if that was what it took.   

There are few things I wouldn’t do to be able to see again…


  1. I was thinking the same thing. I would want my eyesight back. Might make the other stuff glaring back at me from the mirror even scarier, but yes eyesight it is. Sheila

  2. I'd have to go back to the fourth grade. When my eyes went, they really went. I went from normal to 20/200 overnight. Actually, I think I'd like my knees back.

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  4. Ah, Lisa this is a great entry.
    You write so well, so very well.
    I saw myself in so many places here. What would I change? I wish I could return to the days where everything I ate and drank didn't end up around my mid-section-forever!