I wear glasses, but not just any old glasses. They're special. Super glasses that can stand up to my active outdoor lifestyle with flexible frames and transition lenses that go from normal lenses to sunglasses when I step outside. And they're so comfortable that I forget that I am wearing them.
My wife and I love to travel and will jump at any chance to go someplace warm and sunny to escape the harsh Maine winters. This was our third trip to Sao Miguel, the largest of a group of volcanic islands off of the coast of Portugal called the Azores. We know Sao Miguel pretty well and love to take in the lush green tropical forests, birds, hiking trails and best of all, the various hot springs located around the island. We heard of one very special hot spring unlike any other in the world. When we tracked down the location we knew this was true. Imagine a tidal pool, surrounded by volcanic rock, heated by natural hot springs, constantly being mixed by the cold water from the Atlantic ocean. So when the tide goes out you have warm water and when it rolls back in you get cold water. The pool has a few ropes crisscrossed across, from one rock to another, to hang on to so as to keep from getting pulled out to sea or thrown against the rocks.
As soon as we arrived and walked down the trail I could tell by the spark in my wife's eye that we were not just going to be spectators. She said this is something really special and we would regret not getting in. I agreed. So we found a place to get changed into our swimsuits and started to make our way across the jagged rocks on the shore that leads to the pool. At the edge of the pool is a green algae covered aluminum ladder that you climb down into the warm water. We had been advised to go at low tide when the water was calm. We arrived when the tide was coming in and it was anything but calm. Once in and clinging to the ropes, I was pleased to find that the water was about chest deep in the deepest part. The ground below was a mix of uneven rock with cracks and crevices. All of a sudden I realized, damn!, I forgot to remove my glasses! I'm always doing this - stepping into the shower or diving into a pool with them still on. I just forget that I have them on. Unfortunately, this time I could not simply remove them and place them on a shelf or the side of the pool. I was about 10 feet down surrounded by jagged rocks and a current that kept getting stronger and the waves were getting larger with each surge. By this time my grip on the rope went from one hand to two. After a bit, my wife and I decided that it was time to get out and started to make our way on the network of ropes to the ladder. Just then, a huge wave rolled over me and I stayed put but my glasses went out to sea. I didn't realize it right away and then my wife asked, "Where are your glasses?" After a frantic search, I realized that the water was too dark and the ground below far too uneven to find anything. I could barely let go of the rope with one hand to look. I sadly realized my faithful companion, giving me the gift of clear vision on many an adventure, was gone.
I felt such a sense of loss! I kept thinking about Tom Hanks in the movie "Castaway" when his buddy the volleyball, Wilson, fell off the raft and was taken away by the tide. Oh well... The good news is I had forgotten that while glasses help me to see better at a distance I can still see and get around just fine without them. So while it took me a bit longer to identify the birds in the trees and the stars in the night sky were not as clear as when I had my glasses, I was enjoying life without them more and more each day. I started to wonder if I let them become a bit of a crutch and it was time to start thinking about going glasses free with LASIK eye surgery. So in my head, I started to add up the cost of a new pair of "super glasses" and the time that it would take waiting for my new lenses and frames to arrive at my local eye doctor. At 45, is this the right time to consider LASIK? I'm still well under the age of cataracts starting to form and could enjoy, possibly 25 to 30 years more of clear vision. It is starting to become a no-brainer.
To be continued...