Can Everybody Do This?

I remember the first time I got glasses, as a kid in second grade. I remember going to the glasses shop and scanning the wall of frames on display, while the salesman asked me which ones I liked. I chose a pair and stood still while he placed them on my face and adjusted them to fit properly.

“So, do they work? Can you see better?” my dad asked teasingly.

“Uh, I think so…” I said, still squinting through the glasses. The glasses didn‘t do a thing, of course, because the lenses were just regular glass for display purposes, not my prescribed lenses. I didn’t know this, and I didn’t want the salesman to know that his products didn’t work. I sweated in this perceived awkwardness for a few moments before Dad started laughing and let me in on how things worked. I can’t remember if I stuck with those frames, I probably chose different ones.

When I finally got my glasses, it was a revelation. I was used to things being a little blurry, and it wasn’t bad enough to interfere with whatever hijinks I was up to at that age, so I was rather ambivalent about getting glasses at all. The first time I put my glasses on (with prescription lenses), however, I was amazed. I couldn’t believe how sharp and vivid everything was. It felt like such a treat to see things so clearly, a luxury I felt spoiled to enjoy. It was a life-changing experience to see perfectly and effortlessly, and I remember wondering, “Can everyone else see this clearly? Has everyone had vision like this the whole time?”

At this point in life, I am having a very similar experience. I am piecing together a life of my own choosing and volition, the very definition of a life-changing experience. Like my first time in the glasses shop, I have only a vague idea of how things work when you’re newly single at 32. I’ve got the basics of a fresh start established – I’ve committed to my job for the long term, I have a new place under construction, and a different yet equally funky vehicle now (the Mitsubishi Delica has been replaced with a Subaru Domingo). But these changes are simply made, and I fear I’m not as efficient with the personal changes before me.

I have a whole life in front of me, one with more opportunity and promise than ever imagined nearly nine years ago when I left Vancouver General. And this has been the theme for some time, really. I’ve overcome a lot, and accomplished much, yet I feel entirely unprepared and ill-equipped for life moving forward. I wonder how much of this trepidation is common and natural, and how much is due to my own cognitive and pyschological hurdles. When I look ahead, I try to picture what life will look like, who will be in the picture, and what we will do. I don’t know. I don’t know what the next step is, in terms of social and personal development, yet feel compelled to put something into action. I wonder, “Does everyone else see things more clearly? Is everyone else following their vision confidently?”

I have been stuck in my head lately, going in circles of reasons and rebuttal, the centrifugal force tearing my thoughts to shreds. I’m just winging it here, and it’s not a position I thrive in or particularly enjoy. I’ve come to recognize, however, that much of my anxiety stems from my assumption that everyone else does life with greater efficiency, excitement, and enjoyment.  But I know that’s not the case. I know the truth of the matter is that most people are winging it. And really, though it might make me a little less anxious at times, to have things always go according to my plan would actually be boring, too safe, and only second best. So I need to go for it, I have to take that chance, risk looking like the fool I am most of the time anyway, and start putting the rest of life together. It’s the best I can do.

It’s the best anyone, and everyone, can do.

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About jaybrandsma

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5 Responses to Can Everybody Do This?

  1. Naomi says:

    I think it’s time to change the name of your “diaries”. Um, you sound pretty normal to me, probably even above normal. “Going for it” is done only by the courageous, who don’t accept boring, safe or second best. Start by changing the title of your blog. What is it now, really?

  2. michelle says:

    dude, you have advertising on your blog, holy crap, that’s a whole new level of awesomeness.
    The title of your blog is awesome.

    We all go through phases of seeing clearly and not seeing clearly. that’s when we have to get our eyes checked and get new glasses. looking through old lenses can be scary, but those new lenses are so fantastic!

    i can help you find new frames dude, i’m not fully digging the ones you’re wearing now. ;P

  3. JIM says:

    Hey Jay, your writings I’d say leave a lot of people with one word..huh? I have never thought about that. I thought you said you were brain damaged….. it doesn’t sound like it! You write with great insight into yourself and it is probably refreshing for people to read, a definite joy for me to hear what you are saying when I know where you have been, and probably only one of the few people that really know what your brain/you have been through and are continueing to go through. An miracle to see you where you are today. One word of caution, do not get too trapped up being over analytical and thinking that you have to know what is going on and therefore work hard to come up with a theory. There is nothing wrong with not knowing, because there is the ultimate power of God who has your future in the palm of His hand and has a plan and a path for you to follow and all you have to do is let Him take you on that journey.
    Super proud of all that you have accomplished you biggest brother!)

  4. Braintard says:

    Hi Jay. just realizing i started reading this backwards. eyeglasses, huh, hitting my head is 1 of the only good thing to happen, i now have 20/2o vision and don’t need my glasses anymore. last summer i could stare and focus on the needles of a spruce till the hardwood tress around it went blurriny i was able to see what looked like rain except it was clear out and not raining. looked like translucent rod shapes with equal spacing moving straight down. very nice rehab therapist thinks i haulucenated. theres no way in hell i imaginated it. i just looked out at that spruce now,nothing……shoot ….realing i just saying i come back to read a bit more and not trying to make yours my blog.

    • jaybrandsma says:

      Wow, perfect vision after head-injury, nice one! I had my eyes lasered to correct my vision, but astigmatism forced me to get glasses again this past year. I needed them to help me focus on things at work, little bike parts and stuff. Glas to hear you’re writing! Stick with it, it’s worth it.

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