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Truth and Beauty Totem: Eyeglasses

I want to show you something true and beautiful in my life.

Operation Hejira has given me the chance to winnow down what I carry with me. The objects that remain are totems infused with meaning, and I’d love to share their stories with you.

The story

In 2005, just before I left behind my job, I went to Albert Opticians to buy a new pair of eyeglasses. This store has chic, high-end frames and impeccable service, and with the extra money from double insurance coverage, I was able to buy these expensive bevel spectacles.

Claude was the optician who helped me choose my frames, and nothing compares to having a genteel man with a French accent study your face and carefully slide pair after pair of glasses into place until he has selected the perfect match. I was in heaven.

The beauty

I wear these glasses every day, and I love them as much now as when I bought them. I’ve gotten many compliments on them over the years.

The novel, elegant shape fits my small face to a tee. The titanium frames feature a splash of red with a hidden glimpse of turquoise inside. (I think red and turquoise are so fabulous together, I’ve now built my travel wardrobe around them.) The high-index lenses correct my vision without drying my eyes the way contact lenses do.

The truth

As much as I am devoted to these glasses, I wish I didn’t need them. When Lia and Nico were younger, they were forever banging into my face and knocking my glasses out of alignment. They’re a hassle when it comes to swimming and snorkeling, Frisbee and skiing and using binoculars. They used to steam up when I went inside in winter, and now they steam up when I leave the air conditioned car. If we were in an apocalypse situation and my glasses broke, I could be screwed.

I once got evaluated for laser eye surgery, but my eyes need so much correction that the cost was prohibitive. I’m toying with the idea of having the procedure done here in Malaysia. Until then, I shall live with the fact that I walk around all day with a glass-and-metal apparatus perched on my nose.

I wish my artistic vision were corrected so easily. I keep peering into the distance, trying to get my various writing projects and coaching schemes to come into focus, but they can be hazy and elusive. Meanwhile, I sense people whizzing by me on either side, sure-eyed and confident.

I suppose there’s nothing for it but to draw my writing close so I can see its true shape and detail.

I plan to cozy up with my current manuscript this weekend. I hope you have a chance to do the same.


Intro pricing for the Field Guide to Truth and Beauty is going away soon. Pick up your retreat kit now for only $28!

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