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The Day I Opened My Eyes

Overthrowing the Tyranny of 'Not Enough'. One Eyelid at a Time.

Screenshot by author

How my ‘Not Enough’ enslaved me:

Scrolling through Instagram, I was suddenly caught. I clicked on the video and my eyes got all swirly, just like in the cartoons.

The clip was of an attractive young woman picking a tiny little strip of I-don’t-know-what off a paper and placing it effortlessly on one eyelid. You could instantly see the difference. The eye with the eyelid tape on it was open and bright in contrast to the other, which was all but hidden under its hood.

Because I was paying attention to the video instead of what was really going on, I bought the product. I have hooded eyes. I need this. I’ll look so much better.

But who is this magical audience for whom I’m looking better? My wife of twenty years loves me the way I am now. A lot. She tells me so almost every day. My kids, my friends, my colleagues have never said, “Really. You should look into doing something about those eyelids.”

I wouldn’t even have known the term “hooded eyes” until I saw the video. Welcome to the world of advertising. Of the Best. Of Luxury, of You Deserve, of Don’t Settle for Second Best. Welcome to the tyranny of Not enough.

The path to awakening:

I really should know better, but this is the practice. To wake up in the moment. To wake up before, or during, or even after having caved to an unskillful moment. Our job is to notice craving, aversion, and ignorance…and then not do anything to make it stop. That second part is what makes it so hard.

Not doing anything to make it stop.

If I’d been awake the day I was scrolling, I’d have noticed the hook, the desire to ‘look better’, the mild shame about my eyelids. I’d have let myself experience the desire for this simple, relatively cheap solution. And I’d have sat with all of that, letting it itch as bad as it wanted to…without scratching.

The idea of awakening isn’t to free ourselves from craving. It’s to free ourselves from slavery to it. It’s to notice that tiny gap between the craving and the click that confirms your order. And to rest in the gap. With practice, the gap gets bigger and bigger till you become actually more comfortable in the gap than in whatever scratches the itch.

But I’m not there yet. It’s so embarrassing to see myself with clarity. Sometimes I just wave my hands instead, Obi-Wan Kenobi style, and say, “This is not the Tina you’re looking for.” Credit card info. Shipping address. Click. Confirm.

But it is the one I’m looking for!

If I’m serious about waking up to my true nature (that “inexhaustible source of love, compassion and wisdom”), I have to wake up to the Tina that wants less hooded eyes, the Tina that thinks she’s too old, the Tina wishes things were different. I have to acknowledge her and let her be. Feel her pain. Invite her to sit at my table. Not shut her down with $40 and a pair of tweezers.

The moment of truth:

The eyelid tapes arrived a couple of months after I’d ordered them. By then, I’d forgotten all about my hooded eyelids. I opened the package and felt sheepish.

But I thought, “Okay. They’re here. Let’s do this.”

I wish there were a video. See, the Instagram woman was still quite young, so the application of the tape was smooth and easy. She’d probably practiced for weeks. But also, her eyes weren’t that hooded to begin with.

I am sixty-seven years old, my hands shake, and I wear glasses. I fumbled with the tweezers, straining to see the edge of the tape so I could catch it and peel it off the paper. Had to put the tweezers down and put my glasses on. I managed to get the tape in the tweezers, but was then couldn’t figure out how to place it on my eyelid without my glasses. I took my glasses off and dropped the tweezers in the process.

Take two. Got the tape in the tweezers, took my glasses off, and began to place the tape on my lid. My hands shook a little, so getting it to sit where it should was a hilarious undertaking. I am not one who gives up. Finally it was right. Ish. I looked in the mirror. There was about a 7% difference between one eye and the other. But I could feel the presence of the tape and I didn’t like it.

And then it hit me.

Do I really want to spend time doing this every morning? And even if I only did it on special occasions, do I want to celebrate them with a fake version of myself? When did I lose the Tina that was proud of her age?

The ripple effect of my ‘Not Enough’:

The eyelid tape is only one example of my slavery to an externally manipulated sense of inadequacy. And so far, I’ve only spoken about how it affects me.

But every time a gnawing sense of Not Enough makes me buy something, it affects countless individuals. I’ve started to consider what my ‘easy’ purchases cost other people. This article opened my eyes to two deaths (within hours of each other) at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama.

Deaths. As in, funerals, bereft families, suddenly parentless children. Is getting our packages right away worth causing someone’s death? For all they’re doing about it, Amazon seems unconcerned about this.

Here’s my new purchasing protocol: Before ordering anything, I think of the people who need these dangerous jobs.

People who have to locate, package, label, scan and ship every little scratch to my itches.

They’re under extreme pressure all day long and if they buckle, they’re fired.

I consider them and connect the dots. They’re doing all that work for me. I ask myself, “Is this purchase worth putting them through all that?”

Hooded or not, my job now is to open my eyes, see the truth, and make different choices.

Photo by Elena Terrone


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