Transcendence By Way of Lasik, Bjork, and the Sonoran Desert

This poor blog gets no love from me anymore!  Sorry blog.  I have so many things to write about, and just never enough time.  Today, though, I want to get this down, even though it is likely to read like more of my hippie dippie brand of bullshit.

On Friday, I had Lasik surgery to correct my vision.  I have worn glasses or contacts for about twenty five years.  I really enjoy glasses.  I was one of those people that had a different pair for nearly every outfit.

But my vision was HORRIBLE without them.  When the doc showed me the eye chart and asked me to read the smallest line I could, I replied “there’s an eye chart somewhere?” Living in the Sonoran desert is like living inside a vacuum bag- dust, dust, and more dust.  My contacts dried out almost the second I put them in.  To be free of glasses and contacts seemed like a good option for me.

But this story is not about Lasik.  It is a tale of transcendence by way of Lasik.

Following the surgery on Friday, my doctor advised that for the remainder of the day, I should rest my eyes as much as possible.  He even gave me written instructions to nap. My kids were staying with their grandparents so I would have the day to relax and recover.  Between the valium, the massage chairs in the waiting area, and being kid free, this was a lot like a spa day- oh, except I was getting my eyeballs cut.

I was to avoid closeup activities- working on the computer, reading, drawing. You know, all the stuff I normally do.   No children in the house and unable to look at anything up close.  What to do? Hmmmmmm.

I had purchased the new Bjork album, Vulnicura, a week or so prior.  I listened to it and enjoyed it.  But on Lasik day, I started reminiscing about a time before becoming a parent.  A time when a new album meant lying in the middle of the floor, closing your eyes, and doing nothing else but letting the music wash over every part of your body.  Listening with your skin, your senses, your mind, and finally, your ears.  That, THAT was what I was going to do.

Have you ever listened to a piece of music and been so moved by its perfection that it becomes to much to bear?  The album was so achingly beautiful, it pained me to listen.  I became melancholy.  This album chronicles Bjork’s breakup with her long time partner, collaborator and father of her child, so the subject matter was not the most uplifting.  But I have had this happen with seemingly innocuous songs.  I had a fascination with Elton John a few years back, and had to forcibly stop playing “Benny and the Jetts” because I became overridden with sadness every time I heard it.  I’m sure there is some sort of math behind these songs; a pattern of notes or sequences that manifests in the form of depression when I hear them, but for some reason makes me want to play them over and over again.

I listened to the album again yesterday.  I commented to my husband that I really have to stop listening to it because it is having such a strong effect on my mood. But did I heed my own warning?  Of course not.

I have been struggling to find the motivation to work out.  Burnt out on running and biking, I went for a hike with my headphones this morning.  As I walked along the trail, I learned a secret.  Movement allowed me to enjoy the music, without the sweeping sadness.

I climbed on and on until I reached the high point of the trail.  Looking down, I viewed the landscape with new eyes, but not because of my surgery.  Phoenix can be a touch place to live.  Upon moving to the city, I remarked that the desert looked like the natural embodiment of death.  No shade, blistering heat, sharp rocks, a fog of dust.  Even the plants look like they want to hurt you.

But at the top of the hill was some type of succulent, long and lean with an orange blossom on the very tip.  It caught my eye, and looked so lovely and vibrant against the muted rock landscape.  I thought this plant is a survivor.  No matter what obstacles nature creates, it somehow finds a way to adapt and keep growing.


I looked around me, and noticed how I could see trails spreading out for miles.  I liked being able to see how far up I had hiked.  In Colorado and Oregon, the landscapes are lush with trees and plants, dazzlingly surreal with life.  I never thought Arizona was very beautiful because it looks so opposite.  Today, I could see the beauty in the physical representation of the journey marked by all those trails.


As I descended I honed in on a lyric:

When I’m broken, I am whole

and when I’m whole, I am broken

It could be interpreted as a person’s need for pain, but today, I took it as a sign to embrace life, all aspects, all landscapes, all creations.  We are perfect because of our imperfections, not despite them.  By engaging all of my senses, I was able to grasp the immeasurable joy of the experience as a whole, to be at peace with every part, to let go of my desire to assess and judge and just be.  I was filled with gratitude.  Now, the real secret, is to keep carrying it with me.

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