Short Story Saturday: Through Wisdom’s Eyes

If youthfulness is our obsession, can it come as any surprise when wisdom walks not with us?

The old woman sighed and slowly lifted a hand to the sturdy frames encircling her eyes. She slid them the rest of the way down her nose and eased them off her ears one side at a time before holding them out to me. “Take a look,” she urged gently.

“But I don’t need glasses,” I repeated hesitantly, wondering all the while if this odd conversation might be a warning sign of senility.

“These aren’t ordinary glasses, my dear,” she insisted. “Take a look. These used to be a precious commodity—they still are precious…beautifully crafted by years, pain, laughter, love, sacrifice, joy and sorrow—but nobody values them anymore, it seems.”

I was intrigued. Confused, but curious. I took the frames and eyed them carefully as they lay in my outstretched palm. I have perfect vision, so I expected nothing short of a warped, blurry mess. What would be the best way to reply to the old woman’s crazy rants? “I’ll come up with with something,” I insisted to myself in an unsuccessful attempt to silence the inner worrier. I raised the frames hesitantly to my eyes.

The room was utterly unchanged, but within a few seconds, my mind began to pulse, sharpen, discern. It was pulled and stretched into the strangest sense of peaceful calm and quiet clarity that I’ve ever experienced. But from the serene mind, life came into focus. Excess became apparent. Silly goals, childish wishes, impossible body images, endless worries, empty ambitions, stupid things I was chasing and worthless words I spoke wilted in my hand like a sad bouquet of old flowers. How had I become so obsessed with emptiness? Pointless causes championed, harsh words spoken and petty arguments fought washed through my embarrassed mind. Foolish child. Shame suddenly sank over me. How had I been so sure I had it all right and everyone else was entirely wrong? A flash flood of tears gushed down my cheeks, and I wrenched the glasses away and dropped them on the sofa if they were hot coals. I instinctively ran a hand along my nose and down my cheek; the skin was fine, but my soul was seared.

“I know it hurts a touch now, dear child; wisdom always does when you first see. But you’re quite fortunate. You got a glance, and many young people today never get that privilege. You know there’s more. More to the world than what you find beyond the tip of your own nose. But it IS your choice. Will you go back to what you already know or will you go further? Will you learn how to live deeper or will you teach yourself how to forget?” (3/15/12)

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