By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
PROMPT — The way I see it ...
The way I see it has changed and keeps changing as my eyes re-calibrate hundreds of times and thousands of ways to take in the world up close and beyond my old ways of seeing.
This is because, since eye cancer showed up in my right eye in the spring of 2019, my vision has been continually changing due to a rare tumor growing in my right eye and then because of subsequent major surgeries to put in and then take out a tiny gold disc holding radioactive pellets. After surgery, my right eye, though legally blind for life since before surgery, gained more traction in its vision. Then it lost the gains when scar tissues and a cataract showed up. After cataract and scar tissue removal surgery, I regained vision but only in the narrow slit my eye saw through because my right eyelid lost so much muscle that it didn’t have the strength to stay open. A final surgery to lift up that eyelid a bit brought back a wider scope of seeing.
All the time, my left eye has had to do the driving, literally and metaphorically, compensating endless times for the right eye. I’m amazed by the miracle of how eyes work together as a team, even when one of them is largely on the bench. But then again, isn’t this how the body and soul work, constantly losing and making up ground as possible to find new ways to be?
As the way I see keeps unfurling, I realize this is the way I see it has been, like it is for all of us, in a state of perpetual change. Another way of saying this: maybe life is a continual practice of learning to see what’s right here.
What’s here now is a seemingly monochrome January day, the colors coming in sharper the longer I look – the edges of pale blue sky along the underside of low clouds, the tan tall big blue-stem and brome grasses almost gold in sunlight, the old hard plastic playhouse (not a storage shed for tomato cages and hoses) shining out its red door with cheer. The large crow marching across the deck railing, picking at the sunflower seed we left there in a long line. The juncos and chickadees politely sharing turns with the titmouse and mourning dove at the bird feeder. The big, gorgeous bluejays squawking everyone out of the way. The cardinals alighting in the distant cedar trees, dots of color calling out their presence.
I keep learning how to see this world in real time. That includes seeing my own mortality a little more acutely and how much it’s a gift to be alive, a wish I hold close to my relieved eyes for long life, long healthy life, and an understanding that whatever my life lessons area, I won’t completely see them in focus until I’m on the other side of them.
I look up and out to see a female cardinal in her orange and tan feathers looking in toward me, tender beauty all in motion all the time.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is a long-time poet, writer, and the founder of Transformative Language Arts, a movement and profession focused on social and personal transformation through the written, spoken, and sung word. She is also the past Kansas poet laureate. She loves facilitating writing workshops, coaching people on writing and more, and leading collaborative programs, including Your Right Livelihood with Kathryn Lorenzen and The Art of Facilitation with Joy Roulier Sawyer. Learn more at her website. She writes from Lawrence, Kansas.