On Blindness

How do you give your pure
       attention to anything in the world 
with the same amount of intensity
       each time, the same amount of care—
even when there isn't some looming 
      deadline or threat of expiration? 
In the case of a heart transplant, 
      this can literally mean anywhere from 
a half- to two-hour window (extended 
      by at least five minutes to make 
perfectly sure the donor has experienced 
      a true cardiac death and won't suddenly 
     seize up on the table). A transplant
team will fly the donated organ, packed
      with static cold solution, to the waiting 
recipient. This is the moment in crime
      shows when the helicopter has barely
touched down on the landing pad, 
      but all the medics are sprinting as if 
in a relay race, passing the cooler 
      marked with a big red cross to the next
hand down the line. But back to attention,
      which in itself is really another 
expression of love— There are those
      who clearly are uncomfortable using
such terms, perhaps for fear of being
      thought weak or uncool. Why else
would they piss on the grave of a child
      who was among those killed in a school 
shooting just days before Christmas; 
      why else choose to believe these deaths 
were a hoax? In the classics, tragedy is defined
      as reversal of fortune: a colossal failure
or fall from grace that happens to a noble hero,
      who has much to lose in the first place
and whose "only" flaw is his hubris or over-
       weening pride. Does this mean 
only the privileged somehow have the right 
       to suffer and then be redeemed? A man
trying to run away from his fate winds up 
      killing his father, basically in an incident 
of road rage. Only near the end does he realize 
      who it is and the terrible thing he's done—
He takes the brooch of the woman he wed  
      (she is really his mother), then gouges out
his eyes. And now we have poetic justice. 
      Who knows if their fates could have been averted 
had they all paid  a little more attention to each other 
      and to the world? A wise man walked among them, 
giving prophecies no one heeded because he 
      was blind and had lived as a woman for seven  
years. Neither then nor now is there any way to do
      whole eye transplants, though it's possible 
to get a new cornea: the clear front part of the eye 
      which helps focus the light so that you can see.

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