Sunday, 25 September 2011


For a long time now I have been in denial. In denial that my eyesight is not what it once was. Reading very small text in newspapers or maps for example, has become almost impossible.

Today I found myself trying on reading glasses in a pharmacy store on 3rd Avenue in Seattle's downtown area, and enjoying the comedy value of how different I looked with them on. They certainly made it easier to read small type, but I think there was an element of the experience that frightened me. In some way it brought it home to me that I'm getting older. Almost 50 in fact.

I'm lucky though. To reach 50 with pretty good eyesight is good. In recent years I've spent a lot more time in front of computer screens, and maybe this has, to coin a phrase, blurred my vision to an extent.

Over the last 4 months I've cycled more than 4,000 miles across North America, and without wanting to sound too smug, I'm pretty proud of that at age 48. I didn't do this alone of course but had my number one friend with me all the way. Unlike my eyesight the decision to go on the adventure was always clear.

There's a lot of things I never see clearly though. Indeed I would go as far as to say that a lot of us don't. Sometimes when you're frustrated and everything's not quite going the way you want it to, and you think the whole world's against you, the person standing right next to you will be there to help you see a rational way through. You get so wrapped up in your own problems, which you often blow out of proportion, that you don't see this silent act of friendship. In essence you take them for granted without meaning to, and for some inexplicable reason they're still always there for you. Maybe they won't always be though, if you don't wake up to your ways.

There's an old saying that you don't know what you have until you lose it. I think the fear of losing the most important things in life seems to bring out irrational behaviour. It's a catch 22 though, as this can lead to you losing that which is most dear to you far quicker than you ever thought possible.

But, and another well known saying coming here, isn't hindsight a wonderful thing. We all have regrets, of course, and I am no different. Overall I've had a wonderful adventure cycling across North America. An experience and memories I wouldn't swap for all the rice in China. But I also have a number of regrets over that same time: film shots I missed; people I wish I could have spent more time with; places I wanted to spend longer in; things said and done I want to take back.

Metaphorically speaking, those were my rainy days, and there were too many now looking back. Eventually the rain usually cleared, the clouds would part and the blue skies would return. Whether I am any the wiser remains to be seen. I hope that this experience will help me see more clearly in the future, before the cloud cover becomes permanent and the rain washes everything away for good.

There isn't a pair of glasses in the world that would fix that.

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