A few years ago, my vision worsened. My eyesight was blurry and I found it hard to see when I drove at night, and my ophthalmologist said I had to deal with my cataracts. I’d resisted this advice previously because, although I am quite brave about things that take place below the neck, I hate the idea of anything being done to my eyes. In nightmares, the thought of needles being put in my eyes is at the top of my torture list.
But it was time. What made it easier to face the surgery was the positive experience of many of my contemporaries. And, in particular, old friend told me that what was wonderful was not just the clarity of vision but the brilliance of colours. “It’s as though your eyes had been covered by brown sludge,” he said, “and then it’s removed and everything brightens.” That sounded good.
I kept those thoughts with me as I gritted my teeth and faced the scalpel and found, a few days after the surgery, that he was right. What had looked like a brownish-blue bowl would now have to be called cerulean. It was that bright! A scarf that I’d thought of as mauve was actually closer to magenta. A brown shirt had become tangerine. Surgery had coloured my world!
However, it hasn’t made me as clear sighted as I’d like to be. I still see the world through the eyes of someone who’s been looking at it for almost seventy-seven years. These are old eyes, and they see things through a film of custom and habit.
When I was young, I knew my parents didn’t live in my world. They didn’t like the music, magazines, movies or books I found so exciting. They didn’t appreciate the way the fifties and sixties had changed everything. They saw an erosion of the values they’d held, and the things that delighted me just depressed them.
Looking back now, I begin to understand how it was for them. I know that nostalgia is an unreliable emotion that produces a good deal of falsehood but it’s hard not to look back. It’s difficult for me to see things without a lens of disappointment and I fear for the future. I can cope with social media, but I don’t like it. I admire the savvy of the young, but I can’t imagine that anything good can come of internet dating. I’ve never thought I was a prude, but I now find much of today’s world vulgar.
It’s my old eyes. I wish I could see things freshly. I need a procedure that will remove that sludgy film of experience that is limiting my vision. I guess a lot of us old folk do.