Middle Distance

In high school I faked an eye exam.  I drummed up all my acting skills and put on a little show for the optometrist, “Uh, hmm, I can’t quite read those letters.”  I paused for effect. Sigh. I used my smallest voice:  “ Do you think I possibly might need glasses?” 
“Yep, I think you need some reading glasses,” said the doctor.
I was thrilled. Eye glasses were just the fashion accessory I craved.  I picked out some green and tan cat eye frames, and they were fabulous.
For about 6 months I pulled them out of my purse in class and turned around in my seat for all my friends to admire.   Good thing selfies weren’t around then. 
I’m pretty sure I lost that pair of unnecessary spectacles when I traveled to Thailand my first year of college.  Oh well, I didn’t need them anyway.
But last year at age 41 something strange started to happen with my eyes.  Street signs were suddenly hard to read until I got up close.  And the episode descriptions on Netflix? Forget about it. It was all a white blur.  Reading books wasn’t a problem, but that middle distance was.  Driving distance.  Movie screen distance.  The lyrics of a worship song on the big screen at church.  The edges of the letters were suddenly jiggly…fuzzy.  Could it be that now I truly needed glasses?
I’m in the middle of life.  That part that isn’t young,  as in…. what will you do with your plethora of adult years? So young that decades span out before you like Christmas presents you haven’t unwrapped yet.  Oh the possibilities of what’s inside.  No. I’m not young like that anymore. I’ve basically unwrapped all the big gifts. So I went to an optometrist. And this time I wasn’t faking when I couldn’t read that one line of alphabet soup.  “Yep, he said, you need glasses.”
“Really?” I replied.  “Why do you think that is?”
He laughed out loud, “Because you’re in your forties!”
I walked right into that one. 
He said, “You need glasses for middle distance.”
 I went home and looked up “middle distance” in the dictionary.
Middle Distance: That part of the landscape that’s between the foreground and the background.  Or: A runner who runs between 800 and 5,000 meters.  Max 3 miles. 
I laughed. I’ve never run more than 3 miles in my life. This sounds just like me.  Instead of feeling down about aging, I decided to embrace this new term.  Middle distance is my new confidence.  There just isn’t any time to waste being insecure.  Or waste fretting over getting older.  This is the day the Lord has made.  I’ve never understood that better than right now in the middle of life. 
Wearing my new glasses I drove to Radio Café to meet with a women who is exactly ten years older than me. She’s tan from years of long distance running in the Texas sun.  I asked her advice on staying fit and healthy in my forties. She complimented me on my writing, and that reminded me that I have lived a writing life all these years. I’ve made it a daily practice. I haven’t wasted time at all.  Last week it was coffee at the same location with a friend who is ten years younger.  That friend wanted my advice on setting personal goals to finish her first book.  I tilted my head, wearing my new glasses and realized, ya, I do have some experiential advice on that.
Being in the middle is keeping me honest…this is how far I can see without some assistance. And being in the middle is helping me lean in…with help I can see a little bit clearer.

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