The Circle of Least Confusion
When I was in seventh grade I got my first pair of glasses.
I was horribly shy around anyone who wasn’t in my circle of friends or, oddly, an authority figure. The judgment of my peers was paralyzing. The boy one desk over in my social studies class didn’t know what my voice sounded like until halfway through the year. I got nauseous on days I had to give book reports in front of my English class. Attention was not something I wanted to attract.
And somehow, I got talked into these big, red, shiny, glasses frames. It was the 80’s after all. I think I sat by my mom’s bed the night before I had to go to school with my new glasses and cried. I was different. Forever.
I don’t remember much of that first day. But I know that when I walked into Mr. Surley’s math class I was concentrating fiercely on the floor as I made my way to my desk. Then I sat down and continued to study the 10×10” tiles, and maybe the brown paper-bag cover on my textbook. And then Mike DeRuyck, one of the cutest boys in school, leaned way down into the aisle, and looked up at me. And he said, “…I like them!”
And then it was okay. I was a glasses wearer.
I graduated to contacts in tenth grade, and got a pair of non-red back-up frames. I also had a nifty astigmatism that I was supposed to try to correct with eye exercises. I’ve never been very diligent with drills, practice or prescribed exercises, unless the payoff was really desirable. If I could see double on rare occasions, so be it. It was kind of cool, actually. My brain would adapt. And it did.
Fast-forward to adulthood when I collected a variety of prescription sunglasses and back-up frames for traveling to places where the sanitation was questionable, and contacts were ill-advised. Ultimately I just couldn’t be bothered with contacts, and glasses became part of my image again. I flirted with LASIK. What would it be like to not have to wear glasses or contacts? I would no longer be the gal with the dramatic (this time blue) glasses. What would set me apart? (somewhere between ages 21-28 shyness had ceased to be a problem).
On Valentine’s Day, 2013, I returned to the world of non-glasses wearers. My eyes are healing so it feels like I’m still wearing contacts, but my vision is 20/15. And my astigmatism is gone. That’s almost the weirdest part. On my first follow-up visit after the surgery I expressed that to my doctor. He said my brain had probably adapted to finding focus in different planes, and now was going to have to adapt to being able to focus at the same distance. When calculating how to correct the astigmatism they took the distance where each eye focused, and split the difference so that they met in the middle*. This was called the Circle of Least Confusion.
So I have arrived at the Circle of Least Confusion. Or, at least my eyes have.
I am getting used to this perfectly sighted world. Much like the myth about ostriches**, I think I felt that when I couldn’t see clearly, no one else could see me clearly. Now I feel exposed. I can see all the time. No taking my glasses off and having the world go comfortably fuzzy. I guess I’ll just have to shut my eyes more often.
*I’m not sure I’m explaining this correctly. I think it’s a bit like my eyes were each camera lenses with different focal lenses, delivering slightly different images to my brain. This could have been very disconcerting and dizzying, but the human brain is fantastic at triage and would just pick one over the other.
**Apparently Pliny the Elder was responsible for the myth that ostriches stuck their heads in the sand and then believed that they were invisible. Oh Pliny. Such an animal would surely go extinct. Unless, of course, they had access to LASIK.