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Last week I overheard a lady on the bus say:  “It’s terrible, there’s no shadows on the ground from the sun, it’s just terrible!”

She seriously sounded like the world was going to end if the shadows didn’t come back so I, of course, quickly glanced out of the bus window and was able to see the shadow of the bus on the sidewalk…  Whew!  That was close!  To be fair it was a really faint shadow because of the smoggy atmosphere but the shadow was most definitely there so I don’t think she had very  good eyesight.  But like many of the tangents in my life it made me think…

A shadow is essentially proof, in darkness, that something is standing against the light, blocking it from reaching the surface.  Shadows can be very dark or very faint, depending on your light source and the opacity of the object causing the shadow… and, apparently, your eyesight.

A shadow is not good or evil in and of itself, it’s all in how you perceive it.  Some examples are:  The lady on the bus viewed the absence of shadows as something terrible and unnatural, scary even but people under trees in the middle of a hot summer view shadows as a blessing.  At night, when a statue is lit from the bottom the shadows make the face look very creepy and it becomes a wonderful place to sit and tell ghost stories.  When that same statue is lit from the top it appears normal and your ghost stories have less umph.  Walking from bright light to deep shadows can be unnerving because you can’t see anything until your eyes adjust whereas going from deep shadows to bright light is usually quite nice.  Your perspective changes everything, eh?

My musings turned me towards wondering – where the shadows are in my life?  What bad habits are standing up, against the light and causing a shadow on my surface?  Where am I dark?  Is the darkness OK?  Am I providing people shade or scaring them with my shadows?  What I am using for my light source?

For me personally my light source should be my Bible because it is the standard of my faith and I believe it is the written word of God.  “Should” obviously implies that it isn’t… not really.

I had to apologize to God this morning because I haven’t been a very faithful follower of His for the last few years…  I allowed my circumstances, my bad shadows, to drag me down and I’ve just kind of stayed there for quite a while, having elaborate pity parties and pushing away the people who love me.  I’m trying to change but definitely can’t do it by myself, I need God’s help!  Thankfully His mercies are new every morning…

Next weekend, for my 40th birthday, I’m going out-of-town on a trip with my two best friends, (who are finally going to get to spend some time together, whoo hoo!) and I’m just going to bask in the shade of our girlfriend-ness.  We are all believers but my friend from high school has a very strong faith and I really need that encouragement, that renewing right now.  I’m ready to start my relationship with God over and want their support.  I need to reach back to the people at my church who have reached out to me and try to start over.  It’s time to come out of the bad shadows and make a new beginning!

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I have horrible eyesight.  In fact, I am legally blind without corrective lenses.  Seriously, on my own I can’t even get close enough to the mirror to put my eye makeup on and actually see what I’m doing, it’s that bad!  (One eye doctor said I had 20/400 vision… when I was in my 20’s and it gets worse every year.)

I received my first pair of glasses at age 10, although I probably could have used them sooner.  When I was a sophomore in high school I was desperate to get contacts so I could wear sunglasses… and when I finally did I instantly fell in love with my “new view”.  No more looking at life through an oval frame and being unable to see anything outside of it.  And sunglasses!  What a “Hallelujah” moment!  I had never been able to wear sunglasses before and now, in the shades of my dreams, I felt  awesome and for the first time in my life maybe even obtained the status of “cool”.  <happy sigh>  Life was good.

Then, about 10-ish years ago somebody came out with the Night and Day contacts.  You can wear them 24/7 for a month and then you’re supposed to throw them away and put a new pair in.  I LOVE these contacts!  I get up in the morning and put a drop of regular ‘ole saline in each eye and I’m good to go for the day.  As time went on (and money was always short) I discovered you could wear each pair for more than one month.  In fact, some of my contacts would last six months or more before my eyes would start to feel irritated.  The last pair of contacts I wore for 15 months straight… yes, I know that’s probably bad for me but I have an eye doctor appointment in less than a week and every doctor I’ve ever had has marveled at how healthy my eyes are, even if they aren’t particularly useful for seeing anything on their own.

In preparation for my next eye appointment I have removed my contacts and started wearing my backup glasses.  I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to go back to the “old”, much more limited way of seeing things.  Once again I can only see what lies within the oval “frame” of my glasses.  Now I know why those huge, giant lenses were so popular back in the 80’s, you could see a whole lot more out of them!  My peripheral vision has literally vanished as I cannot see anything outside the frame of my glasses.  <sigh>  Also, due to the strength of my prescription, things tend to look slightly rounded when I look down – which is particularly annoying when I’m trying to walk down stairs… where exactly are they?  Hopefully I won’t have to put up with these glasses much longer…

Now, to turn the topic slightly to where I’m truly headed – I’m realizing that some people view life through Contacts and some people view life through Glasses.  The Contacts people have peripheral vision and the same view of the world as people who don’t need their vision corrected.  The view of the Glasses people is, by necessity of the glasses, limited, forcing them to view life through a frame outside of which everything is fuzzy, or at least less clear.

The pluses of the Contact People?  They are able to see the bigger picture, all the little details around the edges are more visible and it is easier to consider whether or not they should become bigger details.  The pluses of the Glasses People are that they are more focused on what they do see and everything they focus on they look at intentionally.

Of course they each have negatives too – the Contact People can get distracted by having so much more to look at.  Something will catch your attention “out of the corner of your eye” and you turn your whole body to look at it.  Maybe you didn’t want to look at it and turn away or maybe you did and you continue to gaze upon it until you are satisfied.  Regardless, your focus was interrupted.  The Glasses People can only see what is within the frame of their glasses and miss things that might turn out to be important.

So which one am I and what is better, to be a Contact Person or a Glasses Person?  I’m not sure and I don’t know.  The obvious answer to which is better seems to be Contacts – to see everything.  But should everything be seen?  Is a focused, narrow vision better?  When I first started writing this I would have told you being a Contact Person was good and being a Glasses person is to be an old fuddy-duddy but it’s been five months since I started this post, I’ve had my eye exam (eyes are still healthy, yay! but my prescription changed again, boo!) and so much has changed in the last six months that I’m just not sure I want to see “everything” anymore, I think I want more focus in my life…

I guess I would have to say since God created people to see without glasses it appears to me that having a Contact view of life is how we are designed to function.  Of course, that’s only when we’re young – as we age most people require glasses for one reason or another.  So maybe we need both types of people.  Maybe the young, who can see more, are supposed to help the ones whose vision has gone fuzzy, to explain to those who can’t see what is out there and find a way to bring the picture into focus for others.

In the meantime, I’m realizing that the Glasses People are such by either choice or necessity and the Contact People need to be compassionate when they point out the facts and details that a Glasses Person either can’t or won’t see.  And the Glasses People need to accept the fact that they do have fuzzy vision and be gracious about receiving assistance from those who can see the big picture.  We need to love each other enough to “bear one another’s burdens”, to practice random acts of kindness and to be selfless enough to honor others by caring more about meeting the needs of another than your own.

And there I am, in a completely different place than when I started this post but I think where I am now is better than where I was.  Life is good and getting better!