Goals, Vision Casting, and Laser Eye Surgery

"There's half a million things that I'm supposed to be; a shelter in the moonlight, a punk running free." 


Part of the chorus from The Shins song "Half A Million."

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I'm currently in the process of curating a new playlist for winter. I've written about it before, but the seasons influence and impact my creativity from the music choices to what I want to make. This song is at the top of the list because, just like James Mercer (the lyricist and frontman of The Shins), I feel torn between what I am and what I am supposed to be.


When I was around twenty-one years old, I had Lasik laser eye surgery done. And while it sounds like I've got some killer Terminator-style red laser beam, it just means I've got clearer vision now because of the surgery I had almost a decade ago. 


Growing up, I had glasses, big coke bottom style ones that had a haunting thickness to the lens. In sixth grade, I had contacts and began to live a glasses-free life during the day while still needing my glasses before bed, and when I woke up. I honestly could not see more than eight inches in front of me before everything became blurry. 


When the opportunity came up to get Lasik, I really wanted to return to a time where my eyesight was not troublesome. The day of the surgery came, and they set me up with this crazy looking headgear that held my eyes open so I could not blink. The doctor then used a special tool to peel back the top layer of my iris. A laser moved around the opening shot from a machine above me. It lasted all of thirty seconds for each eye. 


They gave me a pair of safety goggles to keep me from scratching or rubbing my eyes for the next twenty-four hours. They told me I would see clearly as early as the following day once the medication and initial fatigue wore off from the surgery.


I woke up the next morning and felt overwhelmed by the clarity in my vision. I could see. I could see without glasses. I could see without contacts. It was amazing! It's a moment I will never forget, and one for which I am forever grateful. 

Ink & Marker drawing by Nick Dertinger


In a couple of weeks, we will enter 2020, and it often is a time where we reflect on the previous year while looking ahead to what is to come. If you haven't already, you will soon see adverts for "New Year, New You," and the like. It is the time of year where we confront our future by answering questions about our past. 


Have I done anything worthwhile this year?


Did I accomplish all I wanted to?


Did I overcome the setbacks?


Have I settled for less in my life?


It's easy to be bogged down by questions that immediately question our adequacy as human beings. Then, if you're anything like me, you feel overwhelmed by the "checklists," you may or may not have accomplished in the previous year.


Let me share an idea with you.


Setting goals, while important, do not dictate your importance.

When we achieve our goals, it should be as a personal qualifier for our own standards, not the standards of other people. The comparison game does little for our health, mentally, spiritually, or physically. 


I crave clarity. I value communication, and I like to know what needs doing to achieve a task. I set goals, deadlines of my own design to work towards in my freelance work, or personal life. They give me something to aim toward, but they are not a direct correlation to my abilities. There are grace and flexibility within my work. When I embraced this mindset, the goals of life and work became less about quantity and more about quality. 


In 2020, the work still needs to be done. Deadlines need to be met, and projects finished. My personal goals for health, pain management since my surgery, and family will be present on my mind. But I am challenging myself, and you, to not let the stress of goal setting outweigh the importance of sanity in the new year. 


Work hard. 


Create healthy boundaries. 


Be gracious to yourself and others.


And when you look back on 2020 a year from now, I hope that you and I both will feel a sense of achievement, not because we accomplished all our goals, but because we kept moving forward when everything else wanted to set us back.

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