Octo Observations: “Wishing You 20/20 Vision!”

Only a few more days left of 2019. Good grief, how quickly time flies. As hackneyed as that old saying is, it becomes truer with each passing year. But thankfully, many of us in my Significantly Senior generation are still vertical, and happily on this side of the daisies.

Yesterday, as our dear and conscientious personal trainer of many years was putting my husband and me through our paces, I asked her about Christmas with her blended family. She and her husband, now married for many, many years, have five adult children between them. They gathered at her home, and as is customary, each family member was asked to bring a homemade ornament for the tree. “What was yours?”  I asked. “Well, I made one that said, ‘Wishing you 20/20 vision.’”

I almost jumped up off my exercise mat, and said, “Oh my gosh, what a great idea  for a Happy New Year article! May I have your permission to copy-cat your words?” Obviously, she said “yes;” so here goes with some ideas as to how we may each seek 20/20 vision in the next twelve months. Does your mind start to spin in many different directions? Mine does, and it is fun and exciting to contemplate how I can become more aware, more insightful and more alert  especially  as to how life affects others.

First of all, in order to “see” well, we must keep our eyes wide open. To watch each other’s facial expressions, body language and reactions as we converse. Sometimes it is easy to read another person’s thoughts or reactions, but not always. That is a signal to perk up our senses. Try to discern the reaction that our own words may have on others. Sometimes doing this via telephone can be hard…it requires careful listening: to the tone of words, as well as content. 

A few weeks ago, I received a call from one of my darling daughters. Being consumed with Christmas busy-ness, we were both a bit frazzled. Neither of us communicated  well. The conversation ended abruptly….and nothing was resolved. That was unfortunate, and I realized  I had inadvertently contributed to a “tempest in the teapot.” The “steam” settled. However, I knew that my reaction to her words had contributed to our angst. There was a situation when I wished we had been face-to-face, rather than ear to ear. But 3,000 miles of geographic separation interfered. Lucky we have FaceTime capability to give us eye contact, and that is a blessing. Not seeing loved ones for long periods of time is hard, especially at holiday times. A least we live in a modern world, not during the days of the Pony Express.

When miscommunication happens, we are not activating 20/20 vision, and that is something I want to improve so as to avoid future friction. When we dearly love our family as we mothers certainly do, we need to be extra alert to what is happening in their lives, just as we hope they will do the same for us. But none of us is perfect…rather we must take a deep breath, cleanse our lens, and do better the next time…..And we do….and we will…..and we can!

One of my favorite beliefs is that life is a journey. And as we travel down the path of each year, some bumpier than others, we learn, albeit slowly, to navigate the  hills and valleys…and no one, absolutely no one, has all the answers to everything. Fascinating when you pause to ponder; exciting when you realize that you can always learn something new; challenging when you absorb the reality that we are each fallible. We like to think that as we grow older we are infinitely wiser and smarter. Some days we are, yet some days, not so much. We are, after all, mere humans.

Maybe one solution to achieving 20/20 vision is to practice listening with our hearts. Amazing insights can evolve, and our lives can only become richer and fuller. I know how easy it is to chime in and join the cacophony of sound all around us, but it takes voluntary effort to step back, and absorb the meaning of this noise, often loud and discordant. Why ascribe to it, when we can see and hear that it is not productive? Listen, think and create your own melody of love to herald loud and clear.

Consider our global world. It can be chaotic, even amid the beauty of the holiday season. Countries still play games with each other, as is happening now with China, Russia, and Iran. During times like this, behavior of all those in power lacks 2020 vision. Dave Barry, a nationally known syndicated columnist for over 40 years and author (of nearly 60 books) with a keen eye and acerbic wit, commented in his end of 2019 column: “…from out beyond the Beltway, the actual American people warily watched the perpetual tantrum that was supposed to be their government….” We cannot control how leaders react or the shenanigans they create. Yet, we can take it upon ourselves to try harder to be less critical, less fractious, less nasty as we view our elected leaders. How else do we set an example for our younger generations? How else do we put a stop to this bickering that we see played out on TV screens or in our hallowed halls of government? Simply put, don’t enable it by buying into it!

How I wish I had a magic wand….how much fun it was to play “let’s pretend” in the olden days, as a little child. Having a vivid imagination was a beautiful escape…having the ability to create our own fun without any gadgets was a terrific exercise for our young minds. I remember playing  for hours in a vacant wooded lot at the end of our street. Along with other neighborhood playmates, we built caves out of leaves in the fall, played hide and seek behind the shrubs and trees in the spring, and tromped merrily through the snow drifts in the winter. Each escapade was inspired by our own creativity. We pretended to  be kings, queens, or gossamer fairies, who could do or be anything we wanted. Good clean fun. If I had a wand to wave in 2020, I would wish the same kind of pleasurable play for each little person on the planet …in a fantasy Land of Make-Believe.

In reality, the idea of 20/20 vision lies within each of us…..examine our hearts and souls for the ways that we can be more perceptive and helpful to those all around us. Take time to realize that tucked into the recesses of our minds are many images. Images that have taught us valuable lessons. Images that never dim even when the flickering light of life starts to fade. We never have to quit learning or growing, and we can continue to look for inspiration from all the people that we meet and know. Just this year, living in our retirement facility, we have met two wonderful couples who have marvelously diverse life experiences to share. They are delightful people, each one facing different challenges. But deeply embedded are the positives that they reflect…and as our friendships develop, so, too, does our determination to embrace every wonderful opportunity to learn…from each other and from the world around us.

As Stephen Covey, author of mega best seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People wrote years ago: “You always reap what you sow. There is no shortcut.”

So, whether we are 20, 40, 60 or 80 years old, let’s take off the blinders. Let’s not allow any insignificant impediment to restrict us from seeing the broader, brighter pictures all around us. Let’s each blink our eyes. Take a deep breath and focus on achieving wondrous 20/20 vision!

Happy 2020 New Year to One and All!

Joy Nevin is the author of Joy of Retirement – Live, Love, and Learn. Click to buy on Amazon.

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