About a year ago, I wrote an article titled “Sharpening Our Inner Vision:‘I’ Surgery” that discussed how to unleash the genius in each of us. The article featured the ideas of three women—Bonnie St. John, a Rhodes scholar, Harvard graduate and medalist as a Paralympic skier; Stephanie Chick, a professional coach for executive leaders; and me. Our conversation aired on a local radio show, and I condensed our rich ideas into a single piece. How ironic that an article on metaphysical vision would be followed a year later by one on physical vision.
Let me explain. For two months, I’ve been distracted by cataract surgery. After I attended numerous presurgery appointments, my left eye was finally corrected. Then I waited three weeks—impatiently, I might add—until the right eye could be fixed. During this awkward period, the corrected eye continuously fought with the uncorrected eye over which eye would prevail.
Repeated visits to the doctor’s office to check on my healing interrupted my routine. And as a precaution against rupturing the newly installed lenses, I gave up all but the most modest forms of exercise. Further complicating the healing process was the dense smoke from the forest fires in northern California. The 20-second walk from my house to the office made my eyes tear, sting and burn.
The story has a happy ending. My vision is restored—thanks to the miracle of technology—and I’ve been released to resume my life.
After thanking my surgeon and his staff for their excellent care, I walked out of the medical office, past my car, across the street and into the woods. A pine-dotted trail wound around the local junior college. I wore a visor instead of sunglasses so I could see the full range of colors. I marveled at the detail of the leaves and the variation in colors and textures that surrounded me. The novelty of clear vision was delightful.
While walking, I gave thanks for my restored vision. Then it occurred to me that I shouldn’t stop there. I went on to thank my legs for being sturdy and capable of walking up and down hills. I thanked my heart for its ceaseless pumping. I thanked my ears for reporting the chatter of birds and the rustle of a ground squirrel escaping into a nearby bush. Finally, I thanked my body for the energy it provides that allows me to engage in whatever activity I choose.
After finishing my hour-long walk, I drove home along the winding road to Banner Mountain and saw the changing landscape as if for the first time. During that drive, I resolved to keep afresh my appreciation for my vision and my body.
Reaffirming appreciation on a regular basis, though, won’t be easy. When I tore my hamstring and couldn’t walk—let alone play tennis—I promised myself that once I was mobile, I would be forever thankful for the freedom of movement. Six months later, I’d forgotten my promise and took my sturdy legs for granted.
I’m told my brain will no longer consider the clarity or detail amazing in a month or two. Strikingly clear vision will seem normal. But for the first hours, I experienced the gift of high-definition vision on a moment-to-moment basis and created a memory I can savor forever.