November 05 2012

Once I thought my vision was perfect.

That which I saw and that which was were interchangeable.

But then, one day, I learned that at a young age I had been given glasses.

This was an unsettling development.

As it turned out, I had worn these glasses every day of my life, but had apparently become so accustomed to them that I had forgotten they were there. Or more precisely, since I had no memory of seeing without them, I had no reason to suspect their existence.

It then dawned on me that in a sense the glasses were my vision, and always had been, for I had seen everything through them.

When I realized this something changed. I had been so sure of my perfect vision, so sure that if others saw something different than what I beheld, they were simply wrong. But now… Now I became obsessed with glasses.

I read all about glasses. My glasses, other people’s glasses, how glasses worked, what glasses were prevalent in my community, even the history of glasses.

I did this because I did not want to get fooled again, I was afraid to take off my glasses only to unwittingly put on another pair.

Unfettered vision, free of glasses of any sort, that was the only way to be sure of what I saw. And if I knew all about glasses, I would never be taken unaware if someone tried to slip new lenses over my eyes.

But what if I was wrong? More wrong than I had ever realized? What if I could have never not had glasses? What if the quest to see without my spectacles was always a fruitless endeavor? What if glasses were the only way anyone could ever see?

What if my community gave me their glasses not as way to exert power over me but as a gift, because I had to be taught to see?

Maybe it isn’t a matter of seeing without glasses after all, maybe we have to do our best to pick the right pair of thin wire frames or chunky hipster glasses and just embrace the view.


  1. Grace for where we’ve come from rings out from these words. Thank you, Mason.

  2. I love this. I was reading a poem by W. Berry last night that spoke of the shape of the wind, and the rain. Somehow, this poem touches on the same idea to me, how the shape of things is evidenced by lenses through which we look.

    Thanks, Mason.

  3. This is great!

  4. I love borrowing glasses from those in my community, not criticizing that their frames are out dated, ugly or not my style…just borrowing to try and see life through their frame. Great post! ~Kristin

  5. John,

    This: “What if glasses were the only way anyone could ever see? What if my community gave me their glasses not as way to exert power over me but as a gift?” Yes. Yes. I love this, love being reminded how much I love the particular glasses I’ve been given and what a gift they are. Thank you.

    • Ugh. I had in my head that this was John’s post. I’m so sorry, Mason. :{ (This is what I get for being online with a child in my lap, who zooms race cars over my head while I’m reading…)

  6. This is a rich metaphor, Mason – with grace for all. Thank you for it.


Leave a Comment