One Saturday morning while I sat and watched television with my family, my eyes felt a little more squinty than normal (people tell me to open my eyes wider all the time, as if I’m doing it on purpose). I didn’t think much of it until my wife and daughter took an interest. When they started looking at my face more than the TV, I knew I might have a problem.
“Are you okay?” Chrisie asked.
“Your eyes don’t look so good.”
“I’m sure they’re fine.”
“I’m not so sure.”
I went to check in a mirror. My eyes were a little red, but not too bad, so I went back to watching television. A few minutes later, Chrisie again asked, “Are you sure you’re all right?”
“I’m fine. Leave it alone.”
She did and I quit thinking about. I quit thinking about it right up until my daughter looked over at me.
“Daddy, your eyes are not right,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“They are red and sick looking.”
I again went and checked in a mirror. She was right, my eyes were puffy and I was surprised I could see through the seemingly infinitesimal slits. I went back to the Family Room to face my family.
“Okay, you guys are right. There’s something wrong with my eyes,” I announced.
“Funny,” Chrisie said, “We already knew that. What happened?”
There was a more complex answer, but the simple answer was: vanity happened. I often get dark circles under my eyes and usually pay no attention. Usually. Sometimes, I just can’t stand how sunken in they look when I haven’t had enough rest. If one of those moments occurs while I’m at a store, I’m prone to purchase something to address it. Hey, at least I shop in the men’s aisle.
I was in Target when one such mood hit so I went to look for a product I worked well for me before. They didn’t have exactly what I previously used because the brand had revamped it. It had the same name and (mostly) the same ingredients. I couldn’t tell the difference from the list, but the label assured me it had a New and Improved Formula!
I bought it and set it on my side of the sink in our bathroom when I got home. The next day, the Saturday in question, I awoke and discovered my eyes could use a little help. I picked up my new purchase, pulled off the top, and immediately discovered I didn’t like new and improved.
Originally, the product came as a lotion and one push of the dispenser provided enough for what the instructions said was one eye, but which I used for both eyes by spreading it between my index fingers before I applied it. The new delivery method looked like a tiny roll on dispenser (mainly because that’s exactly what it was).
Though wary, I remembered how well it worked in the past, so I gamely gave it a shot. I rolled it once, back and forth, under each eye. Apparently they added something to make it tingle slightly. I guess so I Could Know It’s Working©.
The rolling seemed to leave less product than when it was a lotion, so I gave it another pass. I didn’t get the tingle the second time so I figured I was good to go. I put the top back on and headed for the Family Room to watch television and hang with my family.
It wasn’t even an hour before my daughter convinced me something was wrong and I stood before the bathroom mirror peering through slits at an oddly disfigured face. Apparently the New and Improved Formula caused me to look as if I stood in the ring getting punched repeatedly by a professional boxer. Without gloves.
I quickly took some antihistamines, hoping that would help the swelling, but realized I’d probably just have to wait it out. By afternoon, the swelling had reduced enough that I looked merely sick. By evening, I looked as if I had allergies, though it was still noticeable enough that some friends that night inquired as to my health.
I was completely transparent and honest in what happened, so the well-deserved ribbing my friends and family gave me was pretty good-natured. And hey, at least my eyes definitely didn’t have dark circles.
They did the next morning though. Vanity struck again and I considered trying again. It was almost as if I decided the events of the day before were an anomaly. I tried again, this time only rolling once under each eye because I rationalized that the problem was probably caused by the second pass I tried on Saturday. It wasn’t.
It didn’t long for my eyes to swell again, though it wasn’t as bad as the day before. Chrisie provided some more well-deserved (and not as good-natured) ribbing.
“What were you thinking?” she asked.
“Clearly, I wasn’t.”
I went back to read the label more carefully. One item stood out: If an adverse reaction occurs, Discontinue Use. I decided my excessive swelling was an adverse reaction and threw it away.
This incident made me consider what else I was doing that caused adverse reactions. How many times has my sarcasm gone from funny to hurtful? How many times have I only considered my point of view and not attempted to see another’s?
What if we took that one instruction from some eye product to heart? What if we actually stopped using things that caused adverse reactions? Imagine for a moment a world in which we give up hurtful sarcasm if it attacks another. Imagine if we stopped insulting one another and our viewpoints and started listening and searched for common ground. What if we stopped doing things that caused serious problems for others?
Are you listening, World? A lot of what we collectively do is causing an adverse reaction. We need to discontinue use of degrading others, ignoring the poor, being self-serving, being apathetic, and anything else that promotes adversity. If we’re honest, we all have something we do that is causing an adverse reaction. The challenge for us is to truly discontinue use of the things we know we should. And even better if we throw them away, never to use them again.