Yes, I Can See Clearly Now

If you ask most people about the clarity of their vision, I suspect that they’d either talk about their practical eyesight (near, far, astigmatism, something else), or they’d talk about their dreams. I don’t think the two are disconnected at all, and here’s why:

I’m seeing far more clearly than ever before. Some of that is because the great doctors at NW Eye Surgeons fixed my eyesight. Between January and April, I had a set of surgeries to replace my crappy, natural lenses with what I affectionately describe as my bionic lenses: they are lenses with hinges on them. That means that with practice, I can bend them, just like a natural lens, so I can see both near and far. (I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it).

I’ve been a contact lens or eye glasses wearer since I was 7. And for most of that time, I didn’t really care – either was fine. Swimming and running and cycling (three things I enjoy) were off and on challenging. And traveling was a bit of a pain in the ass, too. But overall – as both eye glasses and contact lenses became better, I cared less and less. I could work around having to carry them, clean them, put them in.

 

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It didn’t happen overnight – my practical vision was on a gradual slide. And in some ways, that made me more introspective. If I couldn’t literally see what was happening around me – then I was inclined to pay attention to the stuff that didn’t require great eye sight. The result of those changes have been a lot like the decline in my eyesight: slow, gradual changes.

 

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But a couple of years ago, nothing was able to keep up. It was like having a great set of eyeglasses, smeared with petroleum jelly. No amount of increase in power helped me see better, and things like driving or running at night began to feel less safe. So I had my bionic lenses inserted – and wow! What a difference! I’m seeing better than perhaps ever, in my entire life. And the stuff I can see with my eyes, and the things I can see by way of reflection are different.

For instance – I’ve fairly well quit organized religion. It’s not like I’ve quit caring about values, or faith, or the things that go with those things: compassion, redemption, hope, justice, to name a few. But the organized religions I’ve been a part of are far apart from those things, especially on a macro level. Sure, it’s easy to find a local community that does a great job living out some of the values that we might attribute to a religion. But on a macro level? Religion still seems to hate women, gay people, folks who divorce, are a different color or culture, and so on. But here’s the deal: I’m connected to terrific people, that care about me (and whom I care about) – and we don’t go to the same church, or work at the same place, or live in the same neighborhood. In many instances, we’re not even that alike. I used to think that a great community had to be connected in some way to an organized system. And now I see that that isn’t so, not at all. If you want to belong, you can. Unless, of course, your community is about exclusion.

(That, by the way, is what I see better than ever: I don’t want to be a part of any community that defines itself by who can’t join. And increasingly – it’s impossible for me to reconcile any organized religion with that very practical notion that most of them practice exclusion. On purpose.)

 

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And I’ve left the nonprofit sector, my home since college. Again – it’s not that nonprofits (especially on a micro level) don’t do very important and meaningful work. But I’ve yet to work for one that didn’t suffer from poor leadership, especially over time. (Don’t get me wrong here – I’m far from becoming a for profit/capitalism will save the world booster. It’s just that in my admittedly short for profit experience – I’ve seen things that have been delightful. Such as firing incompetent workers. Trying new tactics when the old ones failed. Hiring based on skill set instead of faith tradition. I’ve seen plenty of warts, too, particularly around allocation of cash. For profits can certainly learn a lot about doing more with fewer resources. But overall – I’m pleased: I like my co-workers and colleagues. We have (mostly) a shared sense of vision, regarding what we are trying to accomplish, and how.)

So – we’ll “see” what happens next. Can’t wait.

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One Comment to “Yes, I Can See Clearly Now”

  1. Very thoughtful post, Patrick. I especially like your comment regarding not wanting to be a part of an organization that defines itself by those it excludes.

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