A week or two ago I was riding home on the train from work, and I'd had enough of the sting of my contact lenses, which were burning my dry and computer-dazzled eyes. So I plucked them out and threw them on the floor. (The lenses, not my eyes, silly readers...although I would have delighted in shouting "Out, vile jelly!" and causing the commuters to make hideous typos on their Blackberrys.)
Without my lenses to guide me home, I might as well have been legally blind. I walked off the train in a sort of daze, moving along with the stream of commuters. Surely, I would have been left for dead in the days before corrective eyewear, always stumbling to catch up with my sure-footed tribe, glaring through a water droplet on the edge of a plucked blossom, shouting "Hey, fellas! I can't see you. Is that you, Og?" Eventually they would have tipped me into a watering hole or failed to mention an approaching mammoth.
So I walked home blind through the dappled leaves, my face open to the world because I could not construct a symmetrical response to whomever or whatever was looking at me. My expression was as bland and naked as my hands, and my hands swept through the air. The pink house on the side street, a blur, looked like that Cezanne painting we had to turn upside-down in art class so very long ago, to look for the shapes and contours only. "Forget what you are seeing, for an instant," said the art teacher. "That is not a house. Look for the spaces between the houses; look for the colors, and the light."
Something glimmered on the edge of the sidewalk: A lost credit card? A candy wrapper? Whatever it was I could not tell. It flickered blue and metallic, like a strange fish swimming away before me through the hotness of green and the light all falling down.
The world seemed softer when I was blind. It seemed to cradle me, and I was a small thing moving safe and warm through it. And I remembered that as a child—as a teen, really—I hadn't wanted to wear my glasses at all, and sometimes hid them in my coat pocket upon arrival at school. I would mark the colors my friends were wearing in the morning, and spot them that way throughout the day. Sometimes I would make a pinhole lens of flesh by curling my forefinger tight next to my thumb, and sight the world through that. (More often than not I would be felled in gym class by the rubbery thump of a dodgeball to the side of the head, and wish I were not so vain.)
Now, on this walk home through a suburban spring, I heard birds, whispers, my own breath. I saw human shapes, walking, a distance away. Someone was coming up behind me, swinging a bag. Did I know him or her? I turned and framed a quick smile so I would not insult. A stranger, the person may have smiled back; I'll never know. Did it matter? I could assume love from the universe.
Trees seemed to be lit from within by their blossoms; honeysuckle, red rhododendron, pink azalea (dying when viewed closely, but still alive to the half-blind). And the patches of light, dancing on the green trees. Shadows of trees on the sides of houses, houses as big as barns. I looked and was amazed. I saw nothing. I saw everything. The world cast its gaze on me as I stumbled home unseeing and alive.