The Big E

The Big E. Nope, not talkin’ about the “Big Easy” otherwise known as New Orleans. I’m talkin’ about the big E as in eye chart. That letter I most love to see clearly across an uncrowded examining room. I’ve been hangin’ out with the Big E since I was six. Started wearing glasses when it was uber geeky; weathered the hail of four-eyes taunts in season and out. Sigh.

Over time we’ve come to see things differently. Eye-wear has entered the realm of ever-evolving fashion. Perhaps Elliot Gould (if you saw Ocean’s Eleven) is the only person in America who has not updated his eye-wear in decades. I know I have as styles have come and gone. Several years ago I caved into the current fad of heavier broad temp-led frames. What I chose to ignore was that my tri-focal lens for a very near-sighted person were already a weighty part of the eye-wear equation. My handsome but hefty glasses leave red indentations on either side of my nose when not sliding half-way toward it’s tip due to the sheer weight of gravity. As a result my tri-focal gradations are never where they’re supposed to be. My attempt to be trendy has been undermined by the awkward ways I tilt my head in an effort to see clearly.

After two years of seeing through these glasses darkly, both visually and emotionally, I decided enough was enough and booked an appointment with our optometrist, a young Japanese-American woman who purchased the practice from our much esteemed retiring doctor. Such transitions in professional care aren’t always satisfying, but this one truly is. I wasn’t even out of the waiting room before she was inquiring about the threads of my life left unwoven since my last visit. She inquired about a grandchild adoption in process, how I’d recovered from a significant illness, where my work was taking me these days.  

Between asking me which was better, 1 or 2, 3 or 4, 5 or 6, or which lines I could make out on the eye chart with this lens correction or that, our conversation continued. My story enfolded. With sophisticated equipment she might have been looking into the interior of my eye, but she was also gently examining the interior of my life. With interest, attentiveness, recollection and respect. It was a big E experience. 

If someone has taken the time to help you see yourself more clearly, how has that helped your focus as a result? Your vision of yourself? Your vision for the future?

PS – New lighter weight glasses are on their way. I am sure they will be uber chic. But probably not enough to tempt Elliot Gould to update his eye-wear. 







1 comment to The Big E

  • cynthia thomas

    my big E experience was many years of psychotherapy with a Clinical Psychologist. We examined my past, present, & future possibilities after a life threatening stroke in 1981. i will be forever grateful to him for sticking with me as a worked thru my issues at my own snail-pace. he probably could have justified cutting off my therapy after the first decade. but i wanted to continue to see how far i could progress. or, how sharply could i see the Big E. by the time i decided i’d done all the work i wanted to do, i could see the big E very clearly. i discovered who i am, accepted who i am, & created a new life in spite of some residual limitations from my stroke. altho i don’t receive psychotherapy, i have close friends in my life who graciously listen to my struggles & give me constructive feedback when i ask for it. it’s good for me to have these periodic check-ups to keep that big E in good focus.

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