On Seeing Clearly…and New Perspectives

Cataracts, Clarity, Gratitude, Cataract Operation, Cataract Surgery by Susan Ingram

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.
– Marcel Proust

{3 minutes to read}

Over the past two months, I’ve had cataract surgery on both of my eyes. In the United States and other developed countries, this surgery is quite routine and typically related to the aging process. It is performed on patients when the natural lens of the eye starts to thicken and become cloudy, thus preventing them from seeing clearly. The surgeon replaces the faulty lens with a new artificial lens — and voilà — the patient can see clearly again!

The operation is very quick (it takes about 20 minutes) and has few complications, if any. In my own case, following each surgery I returned to work within a day or two. Other than following simple post-operative instructions for the first week or so (not to do vigorous activity or exercise, to use medicated eye drops, etc.), my normal activities were not restricted at all.

Such a simple operation, yes — but with such profound results! Cataracts typically develop slowly over a period of years before a patient is recommended for surgery. So while I certainly knew I wasn’t seeing as well as I used to, I had learned to accept my less-than-perfect eyesight and didn’t dwell on what I was missing.

Then I had the surgery on my right eye, and the vision in that eye improved dramatically. I could now see everything so much more clearly. What was even more striking for me, was the saturation of the colors I was once again able to see. Colors that had become washed-out, now had a new aliveness and intensity to them. Even the color white was now a pure white, and not the dull, grayish-white I had become used to.

I didn’t have the second cataract surgery until 3 weeks later. So that left me in a sort of limbo-situation during which my two eyes felt like they weren’t functioning in sync. That was occasionally frustrating, but mostly fascinating. By merely closing one or the other eye, I could immediately see the “before” and “after.” I actually came to savor this in-between time and experienced a deep appreciation and gratitude for the important change that I was in the process of going through.

This in-between experience brings to mind many of the couples who come to me for divorce mediation. When they first come to see me, they may be sad, frustrated, angry, unable to break out of long-established, “cloudy” ways of viewing things. But after a few sessions, something begins to shift for them. They become less rigid and more able to look at their circumstances differently. And viewing things differently can lead to greater cooperation and clarity as they work through the terms of their divorce agreement.

Cataracts and divorce mediation. Who knew that they would have so much in common!

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