Start Looking

Jill Robbins essays

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Every headache is a potential brain tumor and each new freckle might be malignant melanoma—this is how my brain works. 

I don’t run to the doctor over every ache and bump but I’m quick to climb the crazy tree with my good friend “what-if”. I'll scale that tree with amazing speed, although it’s not too hard to talk me back down, especially if you have booze or chocolate.

I went to the optometrist last month. I was behind on my regular screening but that’s not why I went. I’ve been struggling to see. Think fun, yoga-inspired poses when craning to see my monitor.  Think embarrassingly huge default fonts. Think squinting and struggling with the small print on the instant rice box. This turned in to:

“OMG, I’m going blind…”

I know I stress over dumb stuff. It didn’t help that a non profit group supporting people losing their eyesight just launched a massive ad campaign. Every time I turn on my car radio I heard:

“How do you tell your loved ones you’re going blind? We can help…”

During the two-week wait for my eye my appointment I started looking at stuff I’ve always taken for granted. Melodramatic me took time to appreciate green grass, blue skies, the nuances of people’s faces and, I’m not gonna lie, all the cool stuff on Google.  

I started thinking about how terrible it would be not to see my kid’s faces (which really means seeing if they’re trying to pull a fast one based on non verbals). All the stuff I like requires sight.  How would I read? Is there Braille for Kindle? OMG, no more Twitter? I’d have to rely on someone to give me a play-by-play to enjoy television. Would I still like Breaking Bad if I couldn’t see Walter’s tidy whities? Would Game of Thrones be the same if I couldn’t watch the little pop-up kingdoms in the opening credits?

I know this all sounds extreme which is why I almost never tell people when I suspect tumors or melanoma. I know I’m an over-reactor. You’d think that might stop me from over-reacting in the first place, but sadly, it doesn’t.

So, probably no surprise, I’m not going blind. My eyes are getting old, along with the rest of me and I need new glasses. I am happy to report I’m glaucoma-free. My optic nerve looks fabulous and no one mentioned trifocals, cataracts or a medical marijuana card.

You might wonder where I’m going with all of this. The point of exposing my underbelly of overreacting is this:

Start appreciating what you have. Start right now. Find joy in the simple things in front of you, whether that be mischief in the eyes of a child or the colors of a fall leaf. The things we see around us are awesome but sometimes we have to make an effort to start looking for them. 

I had a two-week period when I no-shit worried I was going blind. You can roll your eyes at my over reacting, but I really feared not being able to look at things that made me happy. I was panicking and kicking myself for not taking the time to properly appreciate what I had in front of me. 

I worried over nothing, no surprise there. That little bit (okay, a lot) of short-term anxiety caused me to slow down a little bit and start savoring things that make me happy.

I’m not trying to suggest life is rosy all the time but I am saying looking for the good is more deliberate than acknowledging the bad. It shouldn’t take a moment of panic to motivate us start appreciating the things in front of us. 

“The journey of life is not to be feared and planned, it is meant to be traveled and enjoyed”… (unknown)

Travel through life and enjoy it. Start right now. And, don’t wait three years between visits to the eye doctor—that’s just dumb.



About the Author

Jill Robbins

Jill Robbins writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog, . She has a degree in social psychology that she uses to try and make sense out of the behavior of her husband and three children but it hasn't really helped so far. Her work has been featured on The Washington Post, Babble, Blunt Moms, In the Powder Room, The Huffington Post and others. You can also find her in the December '14 print issue of Mamalode. Hang out with Jill on and .

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