Where I live in NY’s Hudson Valley, the weather can vary from a blinding snowstorm to torrential rain, from so dim and gray in midday that the street lights come on, to fierce glaring sun or deep foggy gloom. This makes for challenging driving, often. I try to remember to remind myself these situations are great vision practice, to recall what Dr. Bates said about adverse visual conditions being good for eyesight improvement.
Yesterday we had pouring rain here, when the ground is still covered with almost a foot of snow. I was tempted to stay home, but had errands to run so ventured out, trying to have a positive attitude. There were deep puddles everywhere. The shoulders of the roads were still covered with a lot of frozen slush, most roads considerably narrowed. Since the snow was piled up at the intersections too, cars had to inch forward slowly far into the roadway before they could see if any other cars were there. Plus I had to manage my defroster and wipers, making sure my visibility was as good as I could get. I was really hoping I wouldn’t “need” my glasses, as I was afraid they would fog up since it was so chilly and wet. One good thing was that there were few other cars on the road, probably because the weather was so nasty. When I got home with my groceries and myself and my car intact, I felt like I had survived a war!
Today was a different kind of driving adventure. We had bright sun, still with many big puddles from the snow continuing to melt. I had about an hour’s drive up and back on the main north-south artery of the county, past lots of malls in thick weekend traffic. Some people seemed so excited by the unusually warm sunshine they were driving way too fast, splashing dirty puddle water up on my windshield. The sun glared off the puddles, and also occasionally off a well-polished car, as I reminded myself to be grateful for the light, that it’s food for my eyes and lets me see, and not to squint, to keep blinking softly.
Several years ago when I was still wearing glasses, driving was very stressful for me. I felt like I was in battle, the other drivers my adversaries. Esther van der Werf (Visions of Joy) once taught that part of driving in a relaxed way is to see the other drivers as good friends. At the time this made no sense to me at all, my anxiety was so high. Everyone felt like an enemy. Now I agree. Most drivers are just trying to get where they need to be, not make my life harder!
So while I can’t exactly say I enjoyed today’s driving, I got done what I needed to and I came home without any eyestrain. Getting upset because the visual conditions aren’t better doesn’t help. I can stay home, or I can deal with what the driving situation presents, going slowly enough that I am safe and can see well, remembering my good vision habits of constantly shifting my gaze and blinking. A few times today a sudden sun glare flash hit my eyes and I just took a deep breath, looked at the road not too far in front of my car where I could see very well (go to an optimum when you’re visually stressed!), then looked farther ahead again. I am so grateful for the increasing daylight now, and I can see plenty well enough to get where I’m going.