They call it second sight. And it refers to the sudden vision improvement many of us experience just as we reach the age of cataracts. Quite unexpectedly, our vision can clear perfectly. We can read without glasses. We have the near vision of our youth – sometimes, even sharper than we enjoyed back then.
Curiously, however, it only affects how we can see things right in front of us. And it doesn’t last long. And then, too soon and just as suddenly, it is followed by layers of clouds, and dark corners in dimly lit rooms, and the dulling of colors. It’s rather like a brilliant dawn, just before the dark of a storm.
I learned of this visual phenomenon only recently. But I am intrigued with it – as well as its nomenclature.
The term “second sight” was first coined in the early 1600s, when it was recorded that only those blessed with second sight could see the mystical world of the fairies. Since then, this term has been used traditionally to describe those who can see into the future, or sense things yet to be – those who are able to see what others cannot. And now, it is applied to an identifiable state of aging eyes.
But, regardless of definition, perhaps because of both definitions, I like the idea of second sight. And, I suspect, the two meanings are somehow and significantly connected.
I think seeing the world with new sight is a lovely concept – an amazing experience – both with actual clearer vision, and with clearer perception and understanding.
When I was growing up, I was considered to be a “late bloomer.” It was a polite and condescending explanation for someone who simply awakens to things on their own schedule. And also one who sees the world differently. It was a label I hid behind for a great deal of my life. It’s one I wear rather proudly today. Because, to me, a late bloomer gets to have second sight all the time. We get to see everything for the first time – whenever we want, and for as long as we want.
There is a gratifyingly high percentage of writers and musicians, artists and philosophers, scientists and leaders, who began their greatest (sometimes their first) works when they were well into their lifetimes. Some of our human brain capacity doesn’t even hit its peak until we are at least in our fifties. I suspect a good many more of us than we realize are meant to be late bloomers.
Late bloomers have the added ability – and responsibility, I think – of empathy. Because only after experiencing a lifetime of joy and pain and courage and cowardice can we begin to know another creature’s heart and soul. And perhaps only as late bloomers do we possess the grace to walk over that threshold to meet them where they are.
Many of us reach a certain point in our lives when we think only in terms of missed opportunities, of paths not taken; at best of starting over or second careers. But what if we are all meant to be late bloomers? And at that point – right there, right then – is who we were actually meant to be and what we were created to do all along. The passage of time was simply to allow for the stages of our development – for us to accumulate the experience, to acquire the knowledge and spirituality, to create the understanding – and empathy – needed to execute our purpose. It isn’t the beginning of the end, it’s just the beginning … the opening of the late bloom.
Late bloomers are, perhaps, the butterflies of the world. All their energy and struggle and growth and transformations lead to that ultimate bursting forth – from dark into light, with beauty beyond reason – to at last fulfill their intended purpose under heaven. Perhaps to see the world with the most amazing second sight.