Sunday, December 11, 2016


Often when I go to a college basketball game by myself I bring a book.  I do this because in division 1 college basketball there are automatic tv timeouts at the dead balls after the 16, 12, 8, and 4 minute marks in each half.  Add to these breaks, the halftime period, plus the four timeouts each coach has per game, and you have the potential for 17 breaks during the course of a contest.  If I am by myself, I figure I might as well bring a book for these times as opposed to contemplating, say, the state of our democracy (where it seems to be okay that a former enemy may have affected the results of our presidential election and not too many people seem to care a whole lot).

Reading a book during basketball breaks creates a minor problem for me.  I have been blessed with many health related gifts (knock on wood).  One of these gifts is that at an age when I am closer to 70 than any other round number, I do not need glasses to read.  Almost always now when I go to dinner with contemporaries each person at the table has to take out reading glasses or they cannot see the menu. On occasions when glasses have been left in the car or pocket book or at work or wherever, I become the designated reader for my party.  Folks of my vintage marvel at my ability to read without spectacles.  My long range vision, however, has deteriorated.  With specs I can see fine, but without them street signs are blurry as are figures on a movie screen or basketball court.  I did not want to have to have "must wear glasses" on my driver's license and thought I could pass the test without them.  I figured there might be a time when I did not have my glasses and could do just fine without them.  When, while taking the eye test for driver license renewal I attempted to read the letters at the bottom of the chart, the young woman at the counter looked up at me dully and said, "Why don't you get your glasses" which I did and even startled myself when I saw what a difference they made.

The point of all this commentary about my vision is that when I go to a game with a book, I have to continuously take my glasses off when I go to read during time outs, and put them back on when I want to resume watching the game. The idea of bifocals would only be appealing if I needed a different sort of lens for reading, but since I don't need any lens for reading I figure I can deal with the mild inconvenience at basketball games. And I do.

The other night I was a second or two slow putting the specs back on when the game resumed and saw the real contrast between the unfocussed players and then their clear images.  And I was struck for the first time with the idea of what a metaphor this whole vision business is for me.

 I have always been very good at seeing a situation for what it is.   I don't kid myself as a general rule and when faced with an uncomfortable--or comfortable--situation, I see it clearly for what it is.  But I've been accused of not being able to look ahead as clearly.  A woman, way in my past, told me that "the problem with you is" (I had heard a number of versions of what the problem with me was--this was just one of the problems, according to her, of me) "that you think you are going to live forever."

I'm not sure that that is exactly how I think.  I do have a sense that we are here for a finite period, but I do think that sometimes my vision for the future is not as good as it could be. This, of course, is quite a liability in the betting casinos. Also for political punditry.  I was positive that Carter would beat Reagan in 1980 until the last few weeks of the campaign. I really was not worried about a Trump victory last November. (I did pick, to the exact number, the electoral vote count in 2012--but that was an aberration).

I'm not sure how much I can generalize my strengths and weaknesses to others, but I do think even for those who have the ability to see the here and now acutely, the ability to see long range is often impaired creating relatively unattractive presents in the future.

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