Presbyopia Are Not the Eyes of a Child

By Eugene C. Scott

Grandson Linc looking at life as a child

A few weeks ago, as part of this living spiritually experiment, I decided to try and look at life as a child would. Kids are naturally spiritual, not yet dividing life into neat practical categories. Not seeing all with disbelief. I wanted to reclaim a child-like sense of surprise and wonder, to once again have child’s eyes. The trouble was, at somewhere around fifty, I wasn’t sure whether to wear my contacts or bifocals for this experiment.

But seriously, I’m no longer sure how to look at life as a child would.

So, I tried to remember what it was like, seeing things as if they were new. That’s when I ran into another problem that comes with being older.

Wish we could have done that

No, not plumbing problems. It took me a while to remember seeing something for the first time as a child. Finally, I recalled my family visiting the Civil War Museums in Gettysburg, PA. I love museums, even now. But as a nine-year old boy, all those guns and cannons, the theater that realistically depicted the fierce fighting, and the actual battle field mesmerized me. I’d never seen anything like it, especially memorable were the life size figures posted throughout the museum.

One in particular drew my attention. It was the figure of a man, a sergeant or something, in a Union uniform standing stiffly at attention with his rifle at his side. It looked so life-like, almost alive. My brother and I ignored our parents’ commands to come along as we circled this figure drawing closer until we were nearly on the pedestal with it. I noticed how its eyes glistened. Its face sagged with soft wrinkles. Its hand holding the rifle was so detailed that fine dark hair stood up on its fingers. I so wanted to touch it. Then my brother stopped right in front of the figure and drew himself up for the closest look he dared, reaching out one hand.

Suddenly the figure slumped, then raised his free hand to his mouth and coughed. My brother and I screamed and fell over each other trying to escape. The figure then laughed and waved to us. Of course the figure was alive, an actor. It was wonderful. My brother and I stayed and watched him scare other kids, the two of us laughing harder each time, until our parents drug us away.

What surprise, what wonder, what child-like life!

Granddaughter Addi looking and seeing

That’s what I wanted again. So, I set sail. And I saw some inspiring things. I noticed the blueness of the sky. Donald Miller called it “blue like jazz” in his book of the same name. We call it Colorado blue sky here. I savored my food, as if I’d never had peanut butter before. The two feet of snow in our yard glistened in the weak winter sun. I considered building a snow man but had a meeting to attend. A chickadee called out. I noticed people. Their smiles and frowns. But none surprised me like that day in Gettysburg.

All week long I looked. But something was missing. Nothing appeared magical. I’d seen it all before. Disappointment set in. I felt like bagging the whole living spiritually idea. It was too hard. Like so many other self-improvement projects. But I remembered living spiritually isn’t about mere self-improvement. It’s about transformation. There is a difference, though I’m a little unclear about what that difference is as yet.

I stayed the course. Nothing happened. Nothing I expected anyway.  But here’s what I wrote in my journal at the end of the week:

I don’t know how to do that [see with a child’s eyes] anymore. It’s as if it’s been lived out of me. I can only remember what it was like [and none to well at that either]. And I’ve told and retold, or relived, my favorite stories so much, I’m not sure I can see them as new. 

I have seen many familiar things [this week] I’m grateful for, however.

So, maybe the contrast between young and old is that at one end you wonder at the newness; at the other you’re grateful for what you’ve seen and still have. A tight embrace, sitting with your grown children, having grandchildren, knowing life-long friends, hoping to arrow and elk, reading familiar scriptures in a new translation, hiking for a few miles, not worrying about pretenses and appearances.

Are these things spiritual?

Living spiritually may not always mean looking for what I’m missing, but rather holding tighter to what I’ve got.

Maybe the kind of eyes to have aren’t necessarily child-like, but rather the eyes you presently have. Not looking back at what was, nor too far forward to what will be. But seeing what is. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when he asked, “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?”

Papa Eugene looking at life as he should

Not only is Eugene a Presbyterian minister at The Neighborhood Church but he does–in fact–have Presbyopia. Which, you can see by looking him in the eye, is not so bad. Though he has lost or broken five pair of reading glasses. Please join the Living Spiritually Experiment by following and commenting on this blog or by clicking here and liking the Facebook page.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Presbyopia Are Not the Eyes of a Child

  1. John Moyer

    So I’m 71, got this age related macular degeneration, left eye pretty shot, the right side fairly ok.
    Thankgoodness for the Costco optical department. They have this nifty area where you can buy “reading peepers” in 3s; so as a good customer I’ve got them all over the house, the grandkids house, the workout bag, anywhere and everywhere. I envy the grandkids with perfect vision, but hey, I’ve some vision left. The mountain native flowers are about 3 months off, look forward to seeing them every May-August, and yes, gotta take that little magnifier tool so I can appreciate the intracacies of the Creator’s engineering when he designed that erigeron, that orchid, that penstemon.

  2. Georgie-ann

    such nice pictures!,…& I think you just haven’t been waiting quite long enough!,…somewhere coming up around the bend, — (maybe another 10 or 20 years!) — you’ll be realizing that you’ve been gradually entering into “your second childhood!”,…& it’s cool!,…& you’ll actually look at some of the “same old same old” things, and they will indeed look a little new, or somehow different,…some things may become less special, and some things even more special,…or your relationship to them will be somehow different,…I don’t think you can “make it happen,” but gradually “it” happens anyway,…you can notice the effects more in retrospect,…now this “bothers” some people (a whole lot!), but you sound like a candidate to be someone who might actually kind of “dig it,”…”going with the flow” in this case, is often to be recommended,…

    if we’re idolizing only the “culture of youth” and “doing” and “appearances,” — (as we’re programmed to do in this society!), — we may be unconsciously resisting some of our naturally graceful changes of slowing down, “seeing,” and “maturing,” encouraging others, enjoying the process of becoming ripened fruit, sitting back a little and letting youth get ready to “get (their @#$%) in the saddle,” and take over their positions of responsibility,…

    so, I would just say, make the most of whatever potentials you’ve got “goin’ on” now that are meaningful to you,…plan to protect and preserve some of those (I’ve done this with my music, and to some extent studying cooking in new ways), and simplify other stuff, and get ready to enjoy having the “eyes” of “second childhood,” — at once “knowing,” also “loving,” encouraging, maybe wise, but also innocent again and full of wonder, as things begin to come “full circle,” as they say,…which IS a blessing!

    • John and Georgie:

      Good reminders both. Thanks. John, I bought some Costco peepers today for my mission trip in Guatemala. Pray for God’s hand on us and the people we minister too. Eugene

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