Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On Light and Vision

This will probably won't be an organized posting. I just have a couple of only vaguely related things I want to put out there.

As most of my personal friends know I have had a bit of a run of bad luck with my eyes - cataracts (of course), macular degeneration, but the most serious has been thirteen retinal tears which have been lased by the fine folks (Dr. Sophie Bakri) at the Mayo Clinic. They have been repaired, but it has left me with a black veil of floaters. Unfortunately tear number fourteen (I number them now) tore directly through the macula of my right eye, rendering the eye pretty much nonfunctional. This of course has made me very aware of the vision in my good eye - if or when will another tear cut loose? will it hit the macula bullseye again? will my macular degeneration go wet? I try not to worry and obsess about it, but dammit, all of this is affecting my birding right now and it could affect much more in the future. 

Now, a leap back:
I was pumping gas every day after school and weekends during the school year - farming in summer. I never took a book home, some classes I never even opened the book at all. I slid by. The result is that I am not a formally educated man, at least compared to my high school friends, almost all of whom went on to graduate school in various fields. While I am terribly proud of them, I am still shocked and amazed because we tended to be a group of smartass jerkoffs, not academics.

I did have a great set of English teachers in high school. My favorite was Hildred Tennehill. Not only did I have her for English in 10th grade(?) she babysat a study hall I was in. I usually sat quietly doodling in a notebook. One day Miss Tennehill said if I had to be in there anyway I might as well do something, write something, write anything. So I wrote. And she critiqued. The next year I must not have had free study period. Somehow Hildred conned me into eating lunch in her room once in a while and continued to have me write. So ultimately she is responsible for all of this bullshit. 

I suppose it was Hildred who really introduced me to poetry. I thought I had forgotten it all, but every once in a while one will come back and of course the internet is always right there help fully retrieve it again. John Milton lost his sight early and spend half his life blind. This is a bit whiny and 'woe is me', but now I really, really get it. On his blindness. 
When I consider how my light is spent
  E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
  And that one Talent which is death to hide,
  Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
  My true account, lest he returning chide,
  Doth God exact day-labour, light deny'd
  I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
  Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
  Bear his mild yoak, they serve him best. his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
  And post o'er Land and Ocean without rest:
 They also serve who only stand and waite."
Looking good, right now - Gunnar


Carolee Colter said...

I memorized this poem for high school English class and never forgot it. That last line is a bombshell. At one time or another, it is the lesson we all have to learn.

Redwing said...

Deep stuff, Gunnar. To this day, I remember with fondness those few adults that inspired me or served as a mentor.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry regarding your eye-sight (which when we're young, we take for granted)! Hildred was one of my favorite teachers as well. Made learning interesting for sure.

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