The idea of getting older seemed so far off when I was younger. One day I'll have kids! One day I'll own a house! One day I'll have to wear a suit and tie! (The 12-year-old me never considered a morning adult routine of applying foundation and bronzer. What a bonus.)
But there was always something different about getting glasses. "At least I have perfect eyesight," I'd say, as if that made up for my conspicuous lack of a consistent jumper or my inability to grasp basic chemistry. I had no beef with glasses -- plenty of my friends wore them -- but I always figured that if I ever needed spectacles, it would be when I was, you know, really old.
And so here I am. I am not really old, just barely into my mid-30s. I'm going to wear glasses every day for the rest of my life.
Some time over the past two years, things changed. The prompter picked up a halo. Nighttime reading required an occasional squint. I couldn't see the score on Words With Friends. And while I could read a road sign a quarter mile away with no trouble, I struggled with a computer screen fifteen inches from my face. Perhaps not coincidentally, migraines became more frequent.
All of which led me to the eye doctor's office last week, a place my 12-year-old self boastfully proclaimed I would never have to be. So much for the confidence of youth. By the time I finally saw a doctor I was not dreading glasses; I was begging for them.
So what was the big deal, all those years ago? I can't say for sure. I think it was maybe a streak of immortality that kids tend to feel. I was like George Costanza, spotting dimes on apartment floors across the room, and no one would take that from me.
I should have known, and I shouldn't have worried. Turns out I'm not immortal. Not long from now, my hair will be largely gone, fading with my near-sighted skills. So far, the glasses haven't hurt my job performance. But will my managers accept a cue ball delivering the news? Should I begin to fret about that, the way I once shuddered at the thought of wearing glasses?
What I've learned is that I'm going to die, but until I do, I'm the beneficiary of wisdom that comes with time. Glasses became a plus when I knew they would help me; vanity washed away. Stretching isn't a waste of time; it's the way I'll preserve my ability to run long distances more than once a week. Book reading is not a chore; it's a joy, a chance to expand my education. "Further" and "summer" are not verbs, and should never be used as such.
Instead of feeling like I'm invincible, and my eyesight will never decline, I have a sharper view of my own mortality. I hope to have many decades before me. If my bosses remove me from my post in protest of male-pattern baldness, that's out of my control. (A toop is not in the offing. Unlike my younger self, I can say that with certainty.) My flickering eyesight has instructed me: nothing is permanent, and each day in relatively good health is nothing but a staggering opportunity. Best not waste too many.
Evan Dawson, Anchor/Reporter