Thursday, June 26, 2014

Some Great Thing

I have crazy eyes. I don't know the name of my condition, but suffice it to say that I got glasses when I was three and contacts when I was thirteen, but I haven't worn corrective lenses since the summer after I turned fourteen. My vision had improved--which is to say that my brain had learned how to discard all the input it got from my bad eye--and though my mom didn't believe me, the ophthalmologist confirmed it.

But there was a catch: according to the ophthalmologist, my vision would go bad again, probably when I got pregnant. Except it hasn't happened. Three kids and sixteen years later, I'm still waiting for my vision to deteriorate. But even though it's hanging in there, it isn't what it used to be. My eyes are always tired, even right after I wake up, and there are some days when the only thing that brings relief is putting on a mask and taking a rest on the couch. My vision is as clear as it's been in the past, but my eyes feel like they're working ten times harder to stay focused. They're exhausted. I'm exhausted. We all wish they'd just fail so I can wear contacts again.

Lately, though, I've wondered if something more is going on. I have a tendency to jump to the worst-case scenario--I think most writers do; that's one of the things that make us writers--so I've convinced myself I'm going blind. And a really weird thing happened: I convinced myself I'd be okay. No, I convinced myself I'd thrive.

Now, it isn't that I think being blind would be easy. The truth is, being blind must be incredibly hard. Like, so hard I can't imagine it. So hard I can't appreciate how much easier it is to be a person who sees. But there's something about running into a giant obstacle that brings out the best in people. When the going gets tough, most people really do get going (and I think--I hope--I'd do the same).

But then a small voice whispered, "If you'd be okay with going BLIND, why can't you be okay with this? Aren't tired eyes way better than eyes that don't see at all?"

It's been almost a year since Steve and Clyde sold, give or take, and what I've learned along the way, from my experience and others', is that little disappointments will always be part of this journey. Editors switch jobs. Books get reassigned. Covers get dumped. Release dates get pushed back. I'll admit that I've let these things get to me more than I probably should have, especially since they're NOTHING compared to the cancellation of a contract or the closing of an imprint.

One of my favorite Bible stories is the story of Naaman. He's some kind of hotshot in the Syrian army, but his wife's handmaiden is a young Israelite girl. When Naaman contracts leprosy, this handmaiden tells her mistress that there's a prophet in Israel who has the power to heal her husband. Naaman pulls a caravan together and marches down to Elisha's house, intent on finding a cure. But when they get there, Elisha doesn't even bother to come out and say hello. He sends his servant boy instead, and what the servant boy tells him is so simple it's preposterous: wash in the Jordan River seven times, and his leprosy will go away.

Naaman is incensed. He's a Syrian hotshot, for Pete's sake, and yet Elisha can't be bothered to deliver these orders himself? Also, the Jordan River is a trickle. There are way better rivers back in Syria. He came all this way for THIS?

But his counselor is more reasonable. He points out that if the prophet had told him to do some great thing--hike to the top of Mount Caramba, retrieve a feather from a phoenix, and use it to fly home--he would have done it in a heartbeat. So why shouldn't he do this very small and simple thing?

I don't know why some of us have to hike to the top of Mount Caramba while others are told to wash in a river seven times. But if we're willing to climb a mountain, we should probably be willing to take a dip in that gross river. It's rarely as bad as it seems.


Rebecca Gomez said...

I like how you tied all these things together--your eyes, publishing, the story of Naaman. Here's to dips in yucky rivers!

E.B. Black said...

It's awesome that you mentioned Elisha. I've read the Bible through several times and I always think Elisha's stories are very interesting. They are my favorites.

Also, wow about having a positive attitude about blindness. I have diabetes and bad eyes. They get worse all the time and I worry it's because my diabetes is effecting them. (Diabetes can make people go blind.) I've never been able to think about it in terms of,"It will all be okay", especially since I'm scared that I wouldn't be able to write anymore if I was blind, but I'd like to work up to the point where I'd accept it if it happened.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks, Rebecca! *offers towel*

E.B., I love both Elisha and Elijah. They were called on to do some pretty amazing things. And I sincerely hope that neither of us have to deal with the effects of blindness (but if we do, I pray that we'll find the strength to accept it, like you said).