When I was in third grade, my mom took me over to Dr. Hammett’s office in LaGrange. He was “the eye doctor” and I loved going there because the front desk had a bowl of Kraft caramels on it and every now and then one of those fudge ones would show up…SCORE.
That’s exactly how I felt when Dr. Hammett told my mom that I would need glasses. I knew that I was not supposed to want glasses but I really did want them. I thought they would make me interesting. And I would be able to read and read and read and read. So I tried not to smile while I heard the news. I picked out a pair from the kids’ rack–they were called “Cherry Swirl” and they were AWESOME.
Glasses didn’t stay awesome for long, for all the usual reasons. Blind at the pool. Contacts are itchy. Fingerprints. Four eyes. Sweat. They slide down, get knocked off, scratch too easily.
I loved my Cherry Swirl glasses for about a year then I tolerated glasses for another 33 years.
Then one magical day, my car was paid off and I saw an email about $1000 off laser vision correction and I decided that it was time. I went to the seminar and found out that it could work for me. I had the money for it. I got over my concerns about the slim slim chance of ending up with worse vision. Last April, I did it. I signed the papers, paid the bill, swallowed a Valium (#18!) and lay down on a table. Srrrrrrrt. One laser made my vision blurry. Then they walked me two steps to the next table and Srrrrtttt blip blip blip runk runk ruuuunk…and I could see. Seriously. I stood up and read the time off the clock across the room. It was 11:40. Thirty four years of not being able to see then I could see. Just like that.
The day after the procedure, I gathered up all my old glasses and prescription sunglasses and stuffed them in the donation box for charity. It felt so liberating! I could lie on my side and read a book. I felt safer around the pool because I could see my kids clearly. We went to the beach and I saw fish jumping out in the distance. I could wear regular old sunglasses from Target. Even working out was better because I could sweat all I liked without my glasses slipping down my nose during push-ups.
But this isn’t an extended testimonial about the powers of laser vision correction. It’s about changing habits and changing situations in life. With the speed of a laser and a few thousands dollars, I changed my situation. But this morning, I did what I always do–I turned off the alarm, swung my legs over the side of the bed, then reached for my glasses. It’s been a year, but my body still follows that habit of 34 years. It happens when I am sleepy and running on my lizard brain. Habits are like that–they are grooves that my body has gotten used to. They once served a purpose, but now I might still be doing them without the need to. Habits don’t always recognize when a situation has changed. Think about an alcoholic–the minute they decide to stop drinking, the situation has changed. The habit of wanting to drink takes longer to retrain.
The week after the laser eye surgery, I started ripping down the ugly fruit wallpaper in the kitchen that I had resented for eight years. In a couple of days, we redid the kitchen counters, the appliances, the walls. FINALLY. It felt like I had shaken something loose. The eye surgery had inspired me to change other situations. Some things really can be fixed just. like. that. It only requires making the decision to change.
There was a time when running was a habit for me and I want to get back to that. I simply need to do it. I could spend eight years or thirty years to think about it and plan for it and worry over it, or I could put on my shoes tomorrow and run. Well, probably walk and then run down a hill. I can change the situation quickly, even though the habit will take longer to recover.
Do you have something that’s been nagging at you? What are you tired of? What part of it is a habit and what is a situation? Can the situation be changed? How can you retrain the habit?
Now I’m going to bed and I bet you a dollar I reach for the phantom glasses in the morning. And I’ll smile.