Monday, February 14, 2011

"Limited Vision" and the Bigger Picture

One night about twenty years ago, I was waiting for a bus to take me home following my afternoon warehouse shift. Because I knew I'd have quite a while to wait, I opened my strip-cover paperback, angled the pages toward the illumination of the nearest streetlight and tried to read for a few minutes.

I was a little upset when I discovered that the typeface, which had appeared perfectly legible the night before, was now indistinct and blurry, and I could not decipher a single word! I called my doctor the next morning, and I was given an appointment for the end of the week. After that exam, he booked me a visit with a very busy ophthalmologist - for six weeks after that.

She performed her magic and she worked her spells. At the end of our interlude, she informed me that I had two choices. The first was that she could write me a prescription for a pair of good eyeglasses, which would cost me about six hundred dollars, or I could go to the drugstore and find a pair of acceptable magnifying lenses for less than twenty. I reached into my jacket pocket, and pulled out the smudged, scratched dollar store glasses that I'd been using for the last two weeks. "Like these?" I asked.

All of us have limited vision to one or another degree. It might be the result of illness, accident, heredity or just the passing of time. It is regrettable, but it can usually be corrected.

Because our eyes are not at the sides of our heads near our ears, our field of vision is reduced too. We don't always see that leopard up the tree, the hot babe from high school or the grey car in the next lane. We can compensate for this too - it's time to turn our hearing aids up!

At one time, I had two part-time jobs which invariably got busier at the same time each year. One beautiful summer morning, I raced home from my ten-hour graveyard shift at one place to get ready for my seven-hour dayshift at the other. Dirty work clothes from the previous night flew and scattered down the hallway of my apartment as I ran into the bathroom and cranked the hot water in my shower as full as it could go. I noticed that it was darker behind my shower curtain than it usually was, and I was worried that I might be going blind - suddenly and with no prior warning! My concern was put to rest the moment that I took my wet, soapy sunglasses off.

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. They also tell us that some people can't see the forest for the trees. If we stand too close to the canvas at the art gallery, we see tiny, little dots of muddy colour and might miss the gorgeous, bright vista that Renoir intended. Sometimes, we don't see the "Bigger Picture".

I miss the Bigger Picture a lot. I don't understand why I can buy an record of somebody's credit transactions from VISA, but I can't see how many dead "Liberals" voted in the last provincial election. Why is it that a business owner can list his entire family as fulltime employees (when they haven't even seen his place of business), but the people who actually do work for him get only sixteen-hour weeks with no benefits?

Why can Telus sell me a phone package with call display, and then offer me a service that hides my identity when I call you? Once, I lived in a strata property in New Westminster that had ten empty units. They were owned by seven doctors in Toronto, who had never visited the building. Did I mention that there were people sleeping under the protected overhang of our underground parking lot every rainy night?

Why would the provincial government "give" a downtown building to a seniors' society, and refuse to grant them funds for its maintenance? Why are we turning grain into alcohol for our fuel tanks and putting fruit into our cosmetics when so many people are hungry? Instead of going off to war, why don't we all go out to lunch?

And I don't understand how the stories, music and art of individuals can become the intellectual property of corporations. Why couldn't John Fogerty perform any of his old CCR songs for twenty years?

No, I don't always see the Bigger Picture, but aren't those little, muddy dots interesting?


  1. Just getting used to my new (everything but x-ray and 100x the $) spex . . . sometimes 'Limited Vision' is definitely better to understand the world more clearly. Happy Loving-Kindness Day (at least, it is in my world)!

  2. Make that a 1,000x more expensive, but your blog, my friend, is priceless.

  3. Okay, make those spex 1,500x more expensive. But your blog, my friend, is definitely priceless.