Aware of All Eclipses by Tina Curran

Tina Curran

This morning, brushing my teeth, I closed my eyes. I saw only black. I opened them again, all without thinking, and the light rushed back in, not just light but the outpouring of information it brought, the edges, the planes, the colors, the textures of the world; its orientation, heaviness, opacity and translucence, weight and delicacy and shimmer, its meeting points and the interplay between everything and everything. So much. It spoke to me from all around.

I immediately closed my eyes again, overcome by that inpouring. Even the slightest glimpse, a momentary opening of a closed eye, can give me so much connection to the world; all in a microsecond I saw far more than I could take in or detail in words. If that’s true of a momentary glance, what an abundance of wealth I take in with my eyes when they are full open, and maybe even more when I let them rest and gaze.

I just lost a good bit of the sight in one eye. I woke one morning and saw a black round sun against the background of the window by my bed. I turned and looked at my alarm clock. There was that dark circle again. It had moved with my gaze. I got out of bed, put on the kettle for my tea, and called the eye doctor.

Yes, it was a long day of drops and tests and bad news. And yes, I realized, if it happens again in the other eye that would be quite a change for me — I would be legally blind. And so I’m precariously between two worlds right now, and working hard to keep my balance, and my root, in the one where both eyes work — at least to the extent that is left to them now.

When I don’t focus on it it doesn’t seem like too big a deal because the other eye is so willing and able to fill in. The unfathomable brain is weaving the pieces of the patchwork of information that it’s gathering from my left eye and putting it together with what is coming in through the right. And one thing I’m seeing, ha-ha, one thing I’m seeing is that what is happening with the left eye now is that I am actually seeing the eye itself; it’s getting in the way of its own flow that all my life has been an open river of information it’s been pouring into me, allowing, interpreting for me. It’s as if the eye were saying, hey, pay attention to me, not to the information I’m giving you. 

And I see that that’s happening in so many other ways in my psyche and in my life as I get older. My body is saying it. My mind is saying it; my ego is too. All the parts that I think are separate from the world around me.

This is a transient, ephemeral time of adaptation, getting to be a witness to this process. The blood vessel broke only a few weeks ago, and my brain hasn’t finished relearning how to see, is in the process of relearning how to weave things together in this new way, so I’m getting to watch this as it happens. I’m thinking that, if the progression stays on this course, I will experience a seamless flow of connection with the world through my eyes as I did before. It won’t be the same as it once was, for sure. Those patches of comprehension have undeniably become more fragile, almost threadbare. But it will still seem like a whole quilt, a blanket that I can wrap myself in.

But of course there’s that fear, that finally there won’t be enough material for my brain to work with, that this time of change will simply be continuous, fast or slow, with the dear brain working to accept, weave, interpret, and categorize a whole new, and fading, alphabet.

When this first happened, I had to cancel a class, tell my daughter, ask a question of a friend. And every time I dictated into my iPhone the phrase “my eye,” it typed in “mayeye.” Uncomfortably close to the word “mayday,” from the French m’aidez, or help me, but also reminiscent of that old childhood game, mother may I? May I, Great Mother, each day for one more day, continue to see?

Tina Curran has taught tai chi and qigong for many years and enjoys photography. She lives in Hampton Bays.