The Year of Perfect Vision

By: JoAnn Schauf


Once upon a time, I called 2020 the year of perfect vision. It embodied all the markers for greatness: twenty years into the third millennium, a leap year, and the best Roman numeral ever, MMXX. Fast forward to today, and many people, maybe most, would say it’s a dud: epic planetary failure with many personal losses.

MMXX will be written into the history books by others, but individual experiences and learning matter more. Statistics wore me out, canceled outreach and social activities dampened my extroversion, and Netflix no longer captured my attention. I needed a distraction, a project, a source to invest my time and energy.

A small Queen Anne chest beguiled me. Magnificent mahogany hid beneath white paint. I knew zero about furniture refinishing, yet the chest called to me. Didn’t it know my comfort zone lay elsewhere? I rebuffed its relentless pursuing until I couldn’t. We were united, the chest and I, in my garage for the small sum of fifty bucks.

Fortunately, a skilled carpenter, disguised as an employee at my local hardware store, coached me. I was an avid apprentice. Removing the coating required liquids, gloves, and tools. After summoning my patience and tenacity, the regal wood slowly revealed itself. With the garage door open, birds commented with cheerful tweets. Rabbits hopped by, but I was less fond of them as they munched on my Hosta plants. Curious neighbors and my kind husband encouraged me.

Every evening we labored the chest and me. I envisioned it in the guest room. Back at the hardware store, my coach demonstrated the art of sanding. I felt slightly sad, disrespecting the chest with a machine, but the heart, the bare wood grain, awakened joy me. I hadn’t seen that coming.

Finally, I applied the varnish. It looks beautiful. I love the chest! Now, reflecting on what began at the top of the page as a lost vision, I view it differently. We are not tied to one picture. I’ve still got 2020’s perfect vision, and so do you.



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