Blur (adjective)

· make or become less clear or less distinct

· a thing that can’t be seen or heard clearly

 I live in a blur these days; literally and figuratively. Figuratively, it comes from spending time with my mother. It’s often unclear what she can see and hear. She doesn’t want to talk or engage. Books and crosswords puzzles have been put aside now forgotten. She sleeps most of the time and prefers a gentle touch rather than sounds or sights. She wants to sense you are near and not have you announce it. If she had a choice, she’d prefer to be naked under a light sheet. I leave the outside world as she has and enter her room; it is hushed and feels holy. It reminds me of being in church when I was young and fervently religious. Church was the space between the living world and heaven. While there, you could feel closer to God. I imagine the space my mother, a religious woman, lives in is a blur and from the peaceful smile on her face, it wraps her in comfort and she feels closer to God.

I am literally living in a blur as my eyesight requires more light, and I have reached the maximum strength of my prescription. More and more I’m viewing life through a cloudy window, one too hastily cleaned with streaks and smears. Unlike my mother, the soft edges of the world and the challenges posed to the work I love most, writing and reading are making me agitated and immobilized. Being severely nearsighted for most of my life, I panic when I can’t find my glasses upon waking up or have an issue with my contacts. The blur is encompassing most aspects of my life and I pull up the phrase; “can’t see my way clear”. Clarity eludes me in what I want to wear and what I want to do. Even my body seems to blur as it becomes soft and lightly padded to prepare for winter. No more sharp edges. Just when my motor turns over, I stall. I wait and while I know what that means for my mother, I don’t know what it means for me. This inertia is panicking me yet I can’t stop myself.

Remember the rose, the thorn and the bud? I’ve encountered a thorn; I have cataracts and will need to have surgery on both eyes. I should have suspected, as both my mother and grandmother had them. Now I wait for the appointments scheduled to make that happen. Like many other changes in COVID life, getting medical and dental appointments now seems to take much longer than it did before. So I’ve been waiting for six weeks to get mine and, of course, the wait is even longer when it’s for someone who comes recommended. Next week, I begin the process. There is, however, an enormous rose; I’ll be able to see more clearly than perhaps I have for years. I might never again need to wear contacts or glasses. I confess I love my glasses and would miss them, they seem to be part of who I am. Maybe some for reading.

I’ve never been very good at waiting. When it comes to patience, I’m on a constant learning curve. It’s why I never did online shopping until COVID, when I want something I want to take it with me, to make the excitement of desire continue past the moment of discovery. The danger is when this is impulsive and it pierces you with regret when you buy something you didn’t really want. Sometimes this lack of patience stems from a fear that even after waiting, what I want or want to happen won’t. That there may be no reward for it. It’s like being pacified by someone, “Just wait for my ship to come in” and it never does. Also, while we are being told this is the “new normal”, it’s uncertain to me we are through the end of this. Uncertainty about what the future may bring still looms large.

I learn patience through times like these where I must endure waiting that is outside my control: not being able to eat your Easter candy until after Mass when the fast was broken, graduating from high school, having a baby, quarantines, the house buying process. During these times, I manage by having a uniform and a routine. The fewer decisions for me to make, the better. I chunk up the big things I do every day. I subscribe to the “do something small every day” and that’s “good enough” philosophy of cultivating patience.

 The bud in this scenario is that once I get my cataract surgery and my vision becomes clear again, I will see my everyday life in new ways. Maybe view what’s in my closet a little differently and change up my routine. But for now, you’ll be finding me in jeans, oversized shirts, sweaters, jackets and a good old pair of scruffy loafers. I’ll be doing 3 minutes of exercise for every hour I sit rather than my usual 40-minute stints, writing for an hour in the morning and not again unless I feel like it, organizing one drawer in my bureau instead of organizing the whole thing, taking a half-hour walk instead of two hours and preparing simpler meals; soup and bread are great in this weather. As they say, practice makes perfect on my lifelong journey towards cultivating patience.

 How are you practicing (or learning patience) during these times of uncertainty? Or if you want to share what’s your Rose, Thorn and Bud these days?