How the hell do I unmute myself? Zoom selfie: Dale Hobson

Macular degeneration: it’s a classic example of “Some blessings are harder to give thanks for than others.” Failing vision prompted me to retire as a web editor sooner than I might have otherwise. And my previous careers in publication design and printing would now be impractical, or actively dangerous. But I am now freed from being an obsessive workaholic and find I can bring a more reflective depth to my writing and a sharper appreciation for the people in my life and for such places and things as have come under my care.


The world gains an Impressionistic swash as my vision dulls.
The doctor shows me a Mt. Fuji-shaped blip, as small as 
a pinhead, warping my central sight. Half the rods and cones
in the whole retina cram into this two-millimeter focal point.

It’s inherited from my mother’s side: macular degeneration.
I cringe to recall berating her for not seeing the small flaws in 
a print job when she came out of retirement to help in my shop.  
My vision was fine then, but not fine enough to see her struggle.

Concealing my disability is easy so far–long as I don’t drive 
at night, long as I let Siri talk me through strange streets,
so long as no one notices I do my reading in 30-point type.
How many years did my mother keep up her brave front?

My eyes join my memory now in struggling with names.
I know it’s a bird out in the yard, but can’t see what kind.
More than a few feet away, human faces are anonymous.
Just to be safe, I greet everyone I meet like an old friend.

To be certain if they are friend or stranger, I have to come 
close enough to kiss them. In a way, it is my just deserts, 
for having been so long aloof and oblivious, half-hearted.
For a progressive, incurable condition, this is not too bad.

I discover I’ve always been blind–in worse ways than this.

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2 Responses to Unsharpening

  1. Carmen says:

    Oh Dale, I’m right there with you on this one! I never thought I’d have the difficulty I’m having with my eyesight now. How is it you can have 20/20 and 20/30 with corrected vision , yet you can’t really see ?
    I just keep puttering along but I miss the “finer point “ of viewing life. But we get by with what we have and enjoy it for what life is worth!!

  2. Paul Davison says:

    Wow – a really great piece about a rather difficult topic. You walked a difficult tightrope between the extremes of that subject. Well Done!

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