20/20 in “20”
Many of us will make plans for a new start, including resolutions for the New Year. We will resolve to lose weight, have a different attitude, have better relationships, and engage in self-care practices. This is often based on our past accomplishments or adversity. For years I would set the goal to lose weight. Two years ago, I purchased a gym (where I never attended) membership with the vision of losing the unwanted pounds from the previous year. Last year I set the same goal, paid the same subscription which was again underutilized as the year prior. Defeated, this year I wrote one word: “Lippo”. Though I can have humor about the situation and adjusted my goals, there is a sad truth reflected in that statement. We often desire to shift or change course. But we become overwhelmed, derailed, and ultimately lose sight of the goal. This can also be complicated by experiences which are not something we can just erase or alter. One of the most common surgeries performed today is lens and cataract procedures… specifically, laser eye surgery. For many people, laser eye surgery can correct their vision so they no longer need glasses or contact lenses. Laser surgery reshapes the cornea and changes the eye’s focusing power. To see clearly, the lens must bend light rays so they focus on the retina. If the light rays don’t focus on the retina, the image seen is blurry.
Just like our natural eyesight, in 2020 we look to refine or restore our vision. Webster defines vision as the state of being able to see. One of the first obstacles in finding or refining vision is the fear of change. Just like with our natural eyes, our emotional/spiritual lenses can yield refractive errors that are caused by an imperfectly-shaped life. With our natural eye, presbyopia is a condition when the lens can't change shape enough to focus on close objects. Metaphorically our emotions can be so intense that our resolve to move forward feels derailed and our vision blurred. There are several challenges when our lens can't or won’t change shape to focus. We develop “emotional nearsightedness”, where we can only focus on things that are well defined and struggle with ambiguity rendering us unable to look past today and see the future.
“Emotional farsightedness” is the condition where we are so removed from what is happening in the moment and consumed with being able to see down the road that we are unable to appreciate the moment with clarity. Finally, there are times where everything is blurred, regardless of whether they are near or far. The reality is that years after our dreams shattered, hearts broken, relationships destroyed, and deep wounds take up residence, the triggers of life can evoke strong emotions and expectations. These experiences—good, bad and indifferent—can lead us to shift focus causing us to feel discouraged, overwhelmed, and at times hopelessly defeated.
Author Angela Duckworth of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance looks at paradigms of “grit” wherein she believes that interest, practice, purpose, and hope, intersect with both passion and perseverance. These qualities are also conducive to vision; thus grit may be conceptualized as hope. Grit as defined from the Cambridge English Corpus is unattractive (describing a person); "nasty"; "gross". As a noun it can be a substance to render roadways less slippery for vehicles during icy weather. As a verb it describes staring at someone with an intimidating expression; "glare". Having grit is pressing your way despite numerous issues, problems, setbacks or failures. Grit may not look good, feel good at times or even sound good. Hope therefore can be a powerful tool that reinforces one’s grit and does not allow difficulties or adversities to overcome them and drain them of their resolve. Grit or hope provide proactive covering for individuals when faced with hardship. While hope promotes positive outlook, grit facilitates flexibility, adaptation or the ability to “bend”.
As we approach 2020 there is intrinsic value in our past successes, failures and adversity. Where we have been and what we experienced does not define who we are but does speak to our resolve. It is what we believe about ourselves and what we can accomplish that matters. It’s our ability to shift (bend light) focus and accomplish our goals that allows us to have greater clarity and change for the future. It takes work to transcend our experiences (good, bad, and indifferent) into resiliency. There are several things we can do to foster greater 20/20.
Focus on what we can change or “bend”. This means having a positive attitude, optimism, or “grit”. Being able and willing to take appropriate risks to move toward the future and not remained stagnate in one place.
Focus on self-care: being able to identify our needs and limitations so we can take care of ourselves. Many times we try to do too much rather than demonstrating emotional wisdom and maturity.
Focus on meaningful attachments. “It is not good for man to live alone” Our emotional attachments are shaped by our experiences but do not have to be “fixed”. Healthy, meaningful relationships serve as a protective device that allows us to better navigate life’s journey.
In 2020 maybe your resolution is for success or acceptance … perhaps love or friendship … or simply healing. No matter what it is, in the New Year be resolved to look for greater reflection and clarity of vision.