There was a problem in my left eye and I put it down to being indoors for so many months during the lockdown. “I am getting too much of the computer and too little of the outdoors,” I thought to myself, assuming the issue would go away once lockdown ended and life went back to ‘normal’.
Of course, life never did go back to ‘normal’, and my eye problem persisted. One morning, I resolutely drove down to the neighbourhood optometrist. He checked if I needed spectacles but found that it was ‘something else’ and told me to see a retina specialist.
I drove home in a state of shock. Worst-case scenarios loomed in my mind, as did the simultaneous cries of denial. “But I am too young to have age-related disorders!” “But all my work is related to the computer!” “But, God, I am following your purpose for me – then why hast thou forsaken me?” (Yes, I can be melodramatic with God like that.)
That night – hours ahead of my ophthalmologist appointment – I had an existentialist crisis.
What if this was due to all my work on the laptop? Had I just ruined my eyes in pursuit of a passion? Was all my work at eShe – the defining work of my life and what I consider my true purpose – worth losing my vision for?
I’d been working crazily on the computer for the past few months, there was no doubt about it. But what else would or could I have done? What else would I want to do with my life? Do we have our destiny already written out for us or do we create it with our free will? Is my purpose something I am born with or do I get to choose?
I barely slept that night, tossing in waves of anguish and a sense of my entire life having been a complete waste of time.
The next morning, there were 12 patients (with their companions) waiting ahead of me at the ophthalmologist’s office. To dilate my pupils ahead of the retina scan, the doctor’s assistant came put a medicated solution in my eyes. I had no choice but to sit quietly for almost two hours with my eyes closed while awaiting my turn. I prayed in my mind.
And there, in that crowded OPD amidst all that noise and mayhem, I had an opening of the eyes.
I observed the other patients with severe eye issues, wearing dark glasses or patches to fix bigger disorders than mine. And I was humbled to realise that my problem was (probably) not as bad as theirs.
I introspected on my purpose, and realised that, yes, we are born with a purpose but, yes, we also give our consent to it as we go along.
I thought about my work and my writing, and I realised that’s all I really want to do and even if my left eye was to misbehave, I would still probably find a way to continue to do it.
I thought of the divine paradox – and how every truth of life comes with an opposite truth. Yes, we must be proactive and make things happen in our lives but, yes, we must also surrender to the process. Each time I have gone too far in one direction, the universe has reminded me to keep this balance between action and acceptance.
Take a step forward. Inhale. Surrender. Exhale. Ad infinitum.
The doctor – a very handsome man I could see – said it was not an age-related or computer-related disorder but I do need vitamins and eye drops for a while. He asked me to come in again after three months and then he’ll decide if I need surgery. Else, I just have to live with it.
The funny thing is, I had got my answer even before I met him.
First published in eShe’s April 2021 issue