The Blindness of Glass

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you are probably in a situation that you may not even be aware of. Wearing glasses makes you blind. I don’t mean “blind” in the sense that you cannot see, although even that is true in a sense, as your perception changes and the perspectives jump every time you slightly touch the frames.

No, I mean “blind” in a very different sense. Perhaps it has occurred to you that you are a rather detached person, distant, bordering on being aloof. You cannot help but there always seems to be a barrier between you and the other people, a barrier that, by years of adjustment and habituation, has increased and deepened your desire to read books, look at the screens, listen to music. But the barrier towards other people remains, even in the short moments when you take off your glasses or lenses, hug the beloved near you before you turn around to fall asleep.

Try to imagine – and this is in fact easier for those who never had bad eyesight – how it feels to reach out to someone who stands behind a window pane. You can see the person, you can talk to her, but cannot connect. You cannot, that is, cross the fosse. And this is so because your eyes cannot sink into the eyes of the other person. You cannot immerse yourself in these eyes. As there is the window pane, you are confined to gaze, to look at. But you cannot look inside via the doors of those eyes.

The same is true when you wear glasses or lenses. You spent perhaps decades with them, and in those decades you were never able to reach across, to dive into those other’s eyes. In fact, the recognition of someone’s soul via looking into the eyes may never have been a given.

This doesn’t mean that you didn’t have contact, but just imagine how your encounter with others was restricted and hampered because you had no undisturbed view. How different it might have been. The spectacles, the lenses, they hold back your beam of vision. You cannot touch, and so you cannot recognize.

When I meet my nieces and my nephew I sometimes take off my glasses, in order for them to see how my eyes look like, and in order for me to have a better look at them and the call that may accompany them. Especially with babies I take them off so that we can easier meet in this world as those who we were in all those others.


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