During my recent vision screening, I was told I have an astigmatism. "What is an astigmatism?" I asked, sheepishly. The doctor replied that it is a condition in which the curvature of the cornea of the eye is uneven, causing a blurring of vision. Very scary!
My doctor then told me that I actually have two astigmatisms in my eyes - one is a positive 125 and the other a negative 125, and that they, in essence, cancel each other out, allowing me to see clearly. He seemed as surprised as I was.
Relieved that my eyes are healthy and my vision is clear, I started to think about the unique way my eyes seem to be functioning - "seeing" things from two perspectives and bringing them into focus to see clearly. It occurred to me that perhaps if we viewed things with two astigmatisms, we might also see clearly.
One way we "see" is through our heads, through how our brains process what our senses take in. The second way we "see" is through our hearts, as emotion comes from the heart. It's important that we consider both "visions" as we navigate life.
Sometimes our heads "see" first, and then our hearts react with appropriate emotion--a new baby brings happiness; the death of a loved one brings sadness; a kind gesture brings delight; an affront brings anger; receiving something brings gratitude; having less brings envy. Other times, our hearts "see" first, and then our heads react--being gloomy causes one to become bitter at the death of a loved one; being content allows one to see the death of a loved one as cause for celebration of a life well-lived; being cross causes one to become revengeful with an affront; being compassionate allows one to want to help the offender, recognizing the affront as perhaps the offender's way of dealing with their own unfortunate situation; being envious may cause one to wish ill on one who seemingly has more; being grateful allows one to recognize that while we may not have as much as others, we have what we need.
It is important to "see" things with both the head and the heart, for each can offer perspective the other cannot. The mind's fear of the unknown can be overcome by the heart's sense of trust to allow us to move forward. The mind's sense of danger can overcome the heart's sense of adventure to save us from hurting ourselves. The anger felt in one's heart, which may lead one to want to harm others, can be overcome by the head's knowing it isn't right to harm others. The pain of losing a loved one to death can be overcome by a heart's joy.
As I contemplate the events of the Florida school shooting, I feel, along with the friends and families of the victims, the intense sorrow resulting from what we have "seen," with our heads and our hearts. I sincerely hope we all will be able to focus our "vision" on the good in it all--the fond memories of those lost; the admiration for those who put their lives at risk to save others; the gratitude for what we have; the hope that we will take action to prevent this from ever happening again. It will not be easy. It will take time.
I know nothing of the shooter's life, but it seems clear that his head and heart were not able to conjure the focus to know this was not the way to deal with whatever they were "seeing." Sadly, we see this more than ever. It is my sincere hope that we may all work to help those who "see" only the negative, and to help them focus on the positive.
"Seeing" with both our minds and our hearts--living with an astigmatism--may be a key to a joyful existence.
author of "JOY"