January 22, 2010

The Better to See Life with

A few days ago, I sat with my sister and mother as we waited for our mother's cataract surgery. When the surgeon came in to talk with her about the surgery, she expressed some doubts about whether, at her age (97), she should go ahead with the procedure. He apparently hears this quite a lot and gave her time to ask questions, tell him how she felt, etc. He said it's never too late to replace cataracts and reminded her that he'd done the procedure on a 102-year-old man--someone considerably older than our mother.

He also related a story that impressed me even more than the 102-year-old. A man had been told that he had terminal cancer and was given 8 months to live. Just before that diagnosis he'd learned that he was a candidate for cataract replacement surgery. He decided to go ahead with the cataract procedure because, even though he might have only 8 months to live, he wanted to be able to see everything clearly--places he would travel, books he would read, people he would visit, etc. He didn't want to just live out his remaining time; he wanted to live with his eyes wide open. He wanted to look at life through a clear lens.

It's a choice we can make every day, with or without cataract surgery. We can open our eyes to life. We can see everything and everyone we encounter and revel in the wonderful variety and beauty of it all. Or we can look through a lens clouded with our own distortions and preconceptions of how life should be.

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