One of my beautiful bees stung me in the forehead the other day and I tried not to be indignant even as I was yelling “SON-OF-A-NUTCRACKER!!!!" Russ just shook his head and laughed, having just been stung himself, through his socks. We were checking on our hives and it was a stinking hot day. It was so hot that my sunglasses had fogged up and I could no longer see what I was doing, so I trudged all the way down into the adjoining pasture and carefully unzipped my beekeeper’s hood. In the time that it took me to whip up the net, and grab my sunglasses off my sweaty face, a guard bee zoomed in and stung me on my forehead. She had diligently followed me down the path to make sure that I knew how she felt about my activities in the beeyard that day. Now here’s the thing about me. I do not generally overreact in life. I am pretty calm and rational. But when it comes to beestings, I am an over-reactor of the highest order. I am not technically allergic to beestings, but wow does my body ever respond dramatically to bee venom!
By evening, the eye closest to the sting was beginning to look puffy. I joked that it was ‘heinous’ but really, I thought I was getting off easy this time. But by the next morning, my eye was swollen shut and so began several days of facial deformity, agonizing itchinesss and partial blindness. While I am in no way comparing my experience to those with genuine disease and disability, I have to tell you that I learned a lot through this recent happening. I certainly learned to laugh at myself, to give ridiculous-sounding remedies a try and to appreciate the value of a good bag of frozen corn. But above all, I came to have a new appreciation for perspective.
I could no longer see out of my right eye. My visual field was fifty percent smaller without that eye and that meant that my world was shrinking. And that’s what got me thinking about perspective. When we have two functioning eyes, they each gather information from each side of the picture, so to speak, and then put the two views together to create an accurate view of the world. With only one eye, I no longer had a balanced view of the world and it handicapped my ability to make judgements and decisions. It also made me vulnerable to sneak attacks by my toddler, but that’s another story. Mostly, I felt impaired. And that’s when I started to think about the value of different perspectives when it comes to our lives and our world.
We live in a time when it is very easy to narrow our field of vision when it comes to perspectives on the world. In the realm of social media, we follow and like those who are most like us, and in doing so, shrink our world. When people possess ideas that run counter to our own, it’s possible to delete them, unfollow them, or post angry online diatribes about them and those just like them. We’ve just come through a pretty rough election year in Canada and are now, along with the rest of the world, following the disturbingly divisive election to the South of us with the same sort of morbid curiosity and horror that I am sure possessed the onlookers during the toddler/gorilla saga earlier this year. There seems to be a huge divide between perspectives these days, whether it’s political parties, denominational differences or parenting styles. Somewhere along the way, ideas have become identity for many people and to counter those ideas or express different ones, constitutes an attack on the person. To concede points to ‘the other side’ is to undermine one’s own identity and entire perspective on life. So we choose one side, ignore the other view of the world, and deliberately limit our field of vision by doing so. Gone is the balanced perspective that comes from taking both sides into account. Gone is the reasonable middle ground, the area where the best aspects of both views meet to form a pretty accurate view of the world. And this is frightening to me.
I was so pleased to regain my sight as the swelling decreased over the next few days, even though it really just migrated to my cheeks. At first it was work to keep that swollen eye open. It difficult but it was worth it, knowing that I could have a more complete view of the world around me if I was willing to make the effort to open that eye, even partially. Turning a blind eye was the easy way out but it came at a high cost, particularly when I was trying to drive. I could only trust my own judgements and make safe, right, rational decisions, when I knew that I had all the information I needed, from both sides. Even when I couldn’t see clearly out that right eye, it was still better than darkness. It still contributed to a better understanding of the world around me. So I am trying to learn from this experience and going forward, I am choosing to see both sides of issues as they come my way, recognizing that a fuller, more accurate view of the world can be its own reward as well as the means to a much better end in any scenario. Eyes wide open!
Kari Raymer Bishop
Lover of Jesus, cheeses and tropical breezes... seeking balance in life, even as I embrace new challenges and chase new dreams. I am wife, mother, daughter and friend, as well as teacher, entrepreneur, activist, writer, beekeeper and hostess. Come along on the journey through my long-awaited midlife crisis!