In the last two or three years, I've noticed a tendency to read dramatically fewer books than I once did. And by "dramatically fewer," I mean "reading the same number of books in a year that I used to devour in three months." At first I chalked it up to doing most of my reading online, or that I wasn't making time to read the way I once did, or that I'd picked boring books that weren't holding my attention.
But this week I've had to grasp the horns of the real reason: it's become mechanically difficult for me to read books, because my eyes are aging.
I've always had excellent vision, and I've been able to read for as far back as my memories go, so struggling with the simple mechanics of reading is a new and singularly unwelcome experience. I'm used to curling up on the bed with a book and reading for hours, never feeling any sense of pain or fatigue other than what might come from the emotional content of the pages. I don't know exactly when I had to start squinting to try to make the seemingly double-printed letters come into focus, or when I began holding a book at arm's length as though it were some species of unwanted suitor. And I'm not used to giving up and turning on a blazing overhead light just to make the text readable. But I've also gritted my teeth and resisted buying reading glasses, because... well, you know.
Today, though, after another stare into the drugstore mirror and another wince, I took the plunge and bought a basic set of readers. They look just as horrible on me as any other pair of frames I've ever tried on. But today the thought finally struck me: I'll never have to wear these things in public. I can keep them at home, use them whenever I want to read without discomfort. I'll get through many more books without having to grapple with the twinges of a tension headache, and it won't matter if I look like a complete doofus because nobody will see me (well, except maybe Captain Midnight, and he's sworn to secrecy).