It is that time of year when the blogosphere is full of reflections on 2013, lessons learnt, perspectives gained and how these translate into plans and intentions for 2014. December brought a whole new perspective to my life, not in the “Road to Damascus” sense but thanks to giving into ageing – well one aspect at least.
At the start of 2013 my optometrist had issued me with a prescription for reading spectacles. An upgrade of my regular glasses would help me generally, but she felt that after their years of hard labour, my poor eyes needed a bit more help when reading, knitting, darning… Her words were actually along the lines of “you’ve coped very well with your disability” (a bit of an overkill for poor eyesight) but “age takes its toll on us all” (charming!).
Nevertheless, a week later I was clutching two new pairs of glasses. The everyday ones lived on my nose and were so effective that I barely took the reading ones out of my bag. On the few occasions I did, I quickly took them off again. Yes, they enlarged letters, yarn, stitches… but as soon as I looked up, the world swam before my eyes and left me feeling nauseous.
I ignored the “little bit of help” the optometrist had offered for most of the year. By December, however, the lack of natural day light and volume of reading and close work had left my eyes so exhausted that I decided to give the reading specs another try. With a list of jobs to get through before Christmas, I settled down with decent light, popped my reading specs on and worked my way through my list.
Being able to see what I am doing, without peering, is a delight. Knitting, stitching and darning are a breeze now I can actually see what I am doing. And reading is a joy again. In short, I no longer soldier on with adequate general spectacles but actively reach for the correct ones.
So why the difference? Is it just that my eyes have deteriorated in the intervening months and I now really need reading glasses? Maybe, but I think it has more to do with a change in habit.
When I first got the new specs, I carried on as before: rushing around at a (still) ridiculous pace and multitasking as I went. After all, it had been my default setting for decades and involved one of those skills so beloved by employers. Yes, there are times when juggling different tasks is necessary but having to use my reading glasses has forced a change of perspective… and approach.
As switching my optical focus with the wrong glasses on leaves me feeling sick, I cannot chop and change jobs the way I used to. So instead, I work my way through one before moving on to the next and the next… And with it, I have (re)discovered that finishing a task before starting the next is not only considerably less stressful, it is also much more productive. My to-do-lists shrink with amazing efficiency. It is also considerably less exhausting on my eyes, as getting through daily tasks faster leaves more time for relaxing activities that relieve the eyes.
In life some perspectives and habits are gained through hard work or experience that comes with the passing of years. Others, like being able to see properly and not sending myself in a spin with continuous multitasking, can occur by graciously accepting one of the downsides of time passing…