Eyes, I love you. You give me tender gifts of sight, and vision and revision, you let me view and review and reflect. Just saying. Because eyesight in old age is so precious. Because in old age, we know what we’ve lost and we deeply appreciate what remains.
If you’re able, you go about your day with your eyes open, whatever your age. As a child, to whom every sight is new and astonishing. As an old person, grateful for the honour of being able to see what’s under her nose.
These things my eyes viewed last Friday.
I’m walking to the gym, passing dozens of houses that have been patched up and extended and modified and painted and tinkered with over many decades. A succession of owners have put their mark on all the homes around here in Mt Vic. Their marks say this is mine, my choice, my colour, my way to fix what was, in my eyes, wrong.
Seeing an old pohutukawa for the umpteenth time, trapped in suburbia, an ecosystem of birds and insects and parasite plants. I give it a pat on the trunk for showing us a model of old stamina, size, strength, and purpose.
Also seen that day: fresh white flowers looking at me through the boards of a fence.
When the sun sets, we can appreciate the Wellington Lantern Festival on the waterfront.
Just by seeing, we are reflecting. That’s not quite true, but when an image hits our eyeballs, a moment happens. We cannot un-see what we saw. A thought or feeling occurs. It bounces back to the image.
Can we share that child’s experience? When you see something new — and you respond with shock and delight that engages your entire body?
On the way home, I steal some dying hydrangea flowers poking over the footpath. Last week they were bright blue. Now their time is almost done. I put them in a tea bowl from Kyoto which (blasphemously) I’ve been using as a vase for years.
I doubt that I can age like a pohutukawa tree: that’s a grandiose ambition, appropriate for great national leaders but not little old lady poets. More likely and more lovably, let me age like a hydrangea flower. Spotty with age spots. Slowly curling drying and shrinking, and surrounded by a huge compatible family. Eyes closing.
Eyes, I love you. Eyesight in old age, I appreciate you more than ever.