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"The key to living the good life lies in being easily impressed."

Living up here near eight thousand feet brings one clear benefit. The night sky rises much higher above at altitude. The mist and dust largely dispersed, nights remain clear enough to see many more PointsOfLight. Even satellites visit us up here, easily visible floating across from horizon to horizon a hundred and more miles above us. During the day, several jet planes remain visible at all times, most heading due West towards California, but a few always heading to seemingly every compass point. Heavies heading toward Hawaii. Prop jobs bound for Aspen. Who knows where they're going? Winds up there tend to remain fierce even when no weather moves through. We live below severe turbulence even when our trees aren't whipping in the wind.

My optometrist Dr. Joe says the procedure to reposition the displaced lens implanted in my first cataract surgery appears to have been successful, though another week's wait will better confirm.
This morning's exam revealed my right eye still dilated and my vision on that side distinctly fuzzy. The eye chart projected through persistent haze and I simply could not make out the lower two rows of letters. "Perfectly normal and expected," Dr. Joe encouraged; the operated-on eye showing no signs of swelling, surface pressure a reassuringly low nine. I described our earlier-in-the-week foolhardy after dark drive back up into the foothills, where guardrail reflectors appeared to be projecting a wave of light across the road surface and every PointOfLight arrived ringed by three concentric circles. I felt as though I was driving through a rough cartoon sketch of the landscape with details roughed out and not yet distinct. Driving seemed more intuitive that it really should have been. I suspect that my brain was working overtime to derive our course from rough approximations of two lane blacktop. I had refused to slip onto the faster freeway because the number of vehicles projecting concentric circles of light render the path incalculable.

We'd made it home, though I remember explaining to The Muse that I was wrestling with accepting that the upcoming repositioning procedure might not meaningfully improve my nighttime visual acuity. I might have to resign myself to becoming a daylight vampire, driving-wise, returning to my crypt before dark or huddling in place until sunrise. Or worse, submit to riding shotgun to The Muse, who drives on the maniacal end of the spectrum, day and night. I was so tranquilized for the ride back up into the foothills following the procedure that I have no memory of the experience, a great gift. Tonight was different. The sun set but the concentric circles didn't return. I looked up into the heavens and found actual PointsOfLight suspended there.

Sleep evaded me. I rose remembering something about a meteor shower culminating overnight, so I stepped out into the frigid breeze to see what I could see. My paranoid neighbor, fearful of his several trucks getting ransacked, left his outside lights on, but this hardly mattered. The sky seemed black enough to absorb even his paranoia. A prominent PointOfLight flashed by. Not surrounded by any circles of fuzz, but a clean and clear point of light moving at blinding speed, by which I mean I could see it perfectly. Senses seem curious properties. Lose some of one and the absence hardly seems prominent. Senses compensate. Half a scent still seems scent enough, there being no ready comparator present in the moment the impression registers. Lose an eye and half the field of vision won't disappear. Some depth will fade, but hardly noticeably.

I can't say when I last saw PointsOfLight. I have been visually peg-legging for a very long time, seeing impressionistically without noticing any clear difference. I stopped driving at night a year before the cataract surgery, but that nighttime visual deficit seemed more illusory that actual. I felt as though I just could't figure out how to resolve the space, not that I couldn't see. I could see just fine, I thought, but seeing isn't about thinking. Sensory experiences exist independent of the meanings my meager brain makes of them, unless or until, though, my brain starts compensating for the fading acuity. Then, even vision might become an interpretation of the missing primary experience. I would look up into our clear night sky and construct a pseudo visual impression, one allowing me to perceive right through the battling concentric circles greeting me there. This early morning, those competing circles seem to have gone. I could once again see actual PointsOfLight, not merely my impressionistic projection of them.

I see why sleep refused my invitation. Who needs sleep when genuine vision replaces dreams? My metaphorical vision seems to no longer need my brain to concoct itself. I can hang up my muddy paint brush and rely upon the old built-in camera lenses again, no projection required. I suspect the practice my recent visual impairments provided will not be lost, for aging might provide ample opportunities to peg-leg each sense in turn. An ounce of imagination can serve in lieu of a pound of any compensating cure. I can still distinguish sweet from salty, but that capability probably won't last ad infinitum. I feel reassured that my brain has previously proven capable of covering for one degrading sense and so can probably replicate that feat for others. I figure experiences are probably just all about the impressions, anyway. The key to living the good life lies in being easily impressed.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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