I’ve just finished reading You Can See Mortality Better Through a Pair of Reading Glasses, an essay in today’s Washington Post. The opinion piece, by Janice Lynch Schuster, looks at reading glasses — and how nearly all of us eventually require them — as a metaphor for viewing and accepting our mortality.
Writing with irony and just a touch of humor, Schuster describes how her perspective on reading glasses has evolved, from earliest childhood through the present, from her grandmother to her mother. Of course, now it’s her turn to wear glasses, much as she wishes she could avoid them.
Perhaps five or six years ago I bought my first pair or reading glasses to wear over my contact lenses. My wonderful eye doctors, bless them, suggested going to the drug store to buy cheap pairs. So after regularly misplacing my single pair, and conducting stressful searches to find them, I bought a several more — one for upstairs, another for downstairs, one for the car, one for my purse, and another for my desk at work. Today I have eight or nine pairs, and with a few exceptions they rarely cost more than six or seven dollars each.
A couple of years ago it turned into a game of sorts. A colleague observed that my glasses matched my outfit perfectly, and while I am not a person who thinks that much about each day’s outfits, I went home that day and noticed that other pairs coordinated nicely with a certain jacket or dress.
So now I have even more reading glasses, and for fun I think of them as fashion accessories. Sometimes a pair gets so scratched that I throw them away, and in the back of my mind I’ll note that the next time I drop by the local pharmacy I’ll need to check out the glasses display to see what’s new. To splurge, I sometimes check out readingglasses.com and Peepers.
Schuster’s Washington Post essay reminded me that I’ve figured out a way to have fun with this aspect of aging. As I look, from by adult child perspective, at my parents and grandparents, having fun seems to be a critical part of learning to accept the less exciting aspects of growing older.
You might also enjoy reading A Giant River of Reading Glasses, by Jon Carroll, published in the August 15, 2012 San Francisco Chronicle.