I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Winter solstice

Snagged from the internet
This week, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will experience the longest night of the year, and the shortest day. In the Southern Hemisphere, of course, it's the opposite, due to the elliptical orbit of our planet around the sun. More information about this phenomenon is here. I find it fascinating and have personally experienced it for three-quarters of a century. Depending on where I have lived, the event is either negligible (when living close to the equator) or pronounced (as it is here so far north I'm almost at the Canadian border).

Sunset at 4:13pm and sunrise after 8:00am means our days are just over eight hours long. The sun barely comes up before it starts to set again, it seems. Of course, if I lived even farther north, there are places where the sun actually doesn't do much more than scrape the horizon before going down again. I cannot imagine living much farther north than I already do, but many people seem to thrive in such circumstances.

For me, the upcoming week will have both my second cataract surgery, and the winter solstice at 8:27am on Thursday. It's a day I would normally be hiking with my friends, but this week I'll be home recovering from what I hope is as successful a surgery as was the first, three weeks ago. I know I've said it before, but I still find it a miracle that my sight has improved so dramatically in my left eye. I really had given it up and thought it I was moving toward becoming slowly blind. But instead, although there is missing vision, the new IOC (intra-ocular lens) has made it possible for me to see again. I know I've been going on about this for awhile, but anyone who has been through it knows how miraculous it seems and knows why I can't stop myself. Now just one more miracle, please.

This year, SG and I will be doing little to celebrate the Christmas season. As we get older, it seems more and more like just another day, but really, it's a celebration of the return of the light, the birth of Jesus, and the celebration of Hanukkah. Probably a few more traditions I know little about, but it's a special time for most humans. I remember when I was a kid, Christmas Eve was just about the most magical night of the year, when Santa came to our home and put presents under the Christmas tree during the night as we slept. I can still remember those feelings, although it's been a long time since I've even had a tree. When Chris was little, I tried to make it as special for him as it had been for me.

Now he's gone, but Christmas still comes once a year, and the light returns as the days begin to lengthen, imperceptibly at first. By the end of January, I'll notice more light in the sky and soon I won't need a headlamp to light my way to the bus in the early morning hours. But that's looking too far ahead. I need to get through this week and recover from the eye surgery and find out what my new reality will be.

On Tuesday morning, when I wake and go through my morning routine, it will be different: I won't be able to have my tea with milk in it, because I will be expected to come to the surgery center with an empty stomach, and I'm told to consume only clear liquids that morning. I did find out that coffee (hardly clear) is considered legal. Thank goodness for that, since I'm more than a little addicted to caffeine. I'm not fond of the taste of tea without milk, because of the tannin, but I'll manage. I'll be too nervous to care much about it, anyway.

You'd think that since I've been through this once, I would be less anxious, but as we all know, just because something goes perfectly the first time, it doesn't mean it will be the same story the second time around. For one thing, my eye is different: the doctor told me I have a fairly significant astigmatism in my right eye and that, since I'm opting for myopic vision rather than distance, it "should" be okay, but even if it isn't, the astigmatism can be corrected with glasses. Fine. Whatever. What are my choices, anyway? I know so little about these issues, and research on the internet doesn't make me any wiser about what to do. I scared myself silly by researching cataract surgery before the first eye was done, and I'm just trying to keep myself at an even keel this time around.

Prayer and meditation seems to help more than anything else I've done. And frankly, I'm not the basket case I was before the first eye, because I am now familiar with the routine and I know I should be just fine. I felt well taken care of and in the hands of professionals. What more could anybody ask? (Well, maybe a good outcome, too.)

I am also very fortunate to have a wonderful partner who takes such good care of me when I'm sick or incapacitated. He has held my hand many times when I've been sick or recovering from something or other. I can't imagine how different my life would be without him, so right here, right now, I can express my gratitude for him and for our partnership. He shops for our groceries with my needs always in mind, and for that I am also grateful.

It's beginning to sound a little like a broken record, but I am also incredibly grateful for the community of friends I've gathered here in cyberspace. Fellow bloggers and interested family and friends are constantly present because of the world of the internet. It's become so ubiquitous that I forget, sometimes, how much I rely on it. I've got connectivity at home, in all the other places I hang out, and with the tap on the keys or a swipe of a finger, the world opens up to me. Now if that isn't miraculous, I don't know what is.

Euripides once said, "Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness." That's because in normal times, we take for granted that we are loved and cared for, and we shower others with care and concern when they are in need. I hope that we will remind each other that the darkness is temporary, and light will return once again. Also, don't forget to smile at that stranger on the street, because it might be the one light that makes the difference for him or her that day. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things and a wonderful and productive seven days.


Linda Myers said...

DJan, I didn't read the post about your first cataract surgery, but I'm delighted it has turned out so well for you. I think I mentioned, at our October lunch in Mt. Vernon, that it's a "piece of cake."

I'll be thinking about you this week as you undergo the second eye surgery.

Linda Reeder said...

When it comes to Christmas preparations, we are opposites, of course. You know that from my posts. I am so very fortunate to have family to share it with.
As I have learned more about my Norwegian and Swedish ancestry, celebrating "Christmas" has become more about celebrating solstice, as my pagan lineage did in the dark days of the north lands. So now the nativity story and the Lucia and Father Christmas and the Yule tomte are all just a part of the rich fabric of the season of the coming of the light.
Peace be with you this week, DJan.

Marie Smith said...

Blessings to you this week, Jan. I’ll be thinking of you on Tuesday!

Elephant's Child said...

Some years back I was in Antarctica at the solstice. Sunset and sunrise were separated by minutes.
I really hope that your second surgery goes at least as well as the first - and will continue holding you in my heart.

Bonnie said...

Your are in my thoughts and prayers this week. Who would not be a little nervous about any kind of surgery but I'm sure this one will double the blessings of the last one! I see a magical Christmas for you!

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, The days may be dark but today's post is full of light. Thank you for the bright outlook as we reach the winter solstice. I wish you the very best in your surgery on Tuesday. I'll be looking forward to the Christmas Eve edition of Eye on the Edge. John

Gigi said...

The reason your vision in the one eye seems like a miracle because it IS! The strides the medical community has made in our short lives is amazing. I will be keeping you in my heart as you face the next surgery.

Arkansas Patti said...

Goodness your days are short. We rise at 7 AM and set at 5 PM. Will be happier with more daylight though.
It is normal to be anxious about any type of surgery even when we have all ready had the same procedure done before. Try that 4-7-8 breathing technique I mentioned. It is suppose to be great for anxiety.
Will be waiting to hear from you after surgery and am keeping only good thoughts and prayers for you.

Red said...

Ya wouldn't be normal if ya didn't get hyper before surgery. May everything go smoothly on Tues and that I hear you singing the praises of the surgery.

Meryl Baer said...

Wishing you the best for your second cataract surgery. A wonderful Christmas present - renewed eyesight. Happy holidays!

The Furry Gnome said...

You're right, prayer, meditation and simple faith have helped me the most recently.

Rita said...

Another miracle awaits you! :) :)
Be thinking of you.

Hilary said...

I'm so glad that your first surgery has made you so happy, and I am positive that the second one will too. I am a little bummed that I had to cancel mine because I was so sick with the flu, and now I have to wait, maybe until March. But it is what it is..........think I'll just chalk December up altogether.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am hoping you are just as thrilled with your vision on Wednesday when you can put the awful cataracts behind you...well except for the drops:) I shall be thinking of you! :)

troutbirder said...

Wishing your well DJan for the Christmas season. And everyone I know has done well with these cataract surgeries. As to the solstice a we were in Fairbanks camping with friends as young teachers and the two wives told us the young people climbed a nearby mountain to drink and dance all night so we skipped the mountain ate drank and made merry, also skipping the nudity part. My friend and I gave up about two thirty a.m. though it was still light. The wives continue on even going for a hike and encountering a bear. The next day they discovered we celebrated a day to soon and they informed the husbands that we had to do it again. Yup I know about the solstice in the very far north...:)

C-ingspots said...

Dear Jan, you are in my prayers for healing, and for another miracle of improved sight. Know that you are loved by many out here in the blogosphere and that I am one. I cherish your friendship and a few others as well. I honestly feel like if we ever meet, it will be like meeting a long lost friend. I love your writing, and value it so much because I always feel a sense of calm when I read your words. You have a gift and your heart is genuine. I wish for you a very Merry Christmas, and so many blessings for continued good health and joy in the coming new year. Relax and heal my friend. :) And yes, the beautiful light will return...

Dee said...

Dear DJan, by now you have had your second cataract operation. I so hope all went well and that you are rejoicing in even better sight. This has all been a difficult journey for you but you have come to the end of the journey. Christians would say that you have finally arrived at the manger and that you are seeing the Light of the World.

Both of us are blessed because we find that Light in those we meet throughout each day--the stranger, the clerk at the grocery store, the people with whom you hike and walk and sit at the coffee shop. We are truly fortunate.

Thank you for all the fear and then gratitude you have expressed in your most recent blog postings. I think you have helped all of us appreciate our lives and our bodies more. That is a great gift to us this Christmastide. Peace.