Magic Eye: A New Way of Looking at COVID-19


Magic eye

BEFORE: Each morning, we would hit the ground running, off to work, school, or anywhere we needed to be. The point was we left.

AFTER: Quarantine sent us ALL back to the starting line.

And since then, what we choose to do while stuck at home for months will undoubtedly never be forgotten, and the whole experience will have changed each and every one of us.

Like many others, during the countless days spent at home, I fell into a project of cleaning out closets, shelves, dresser drawers, etc. Not surprisingly, I came across a “treasure” of sorts, rummaging through all of my stuff. It was a book, not with words, but just pictures that sometimes weren’t even visible, a trendy item from the early 90s. Does anyone remember staring for an hour at a 2D page of patterns and, at the same time, trying to see a 3D hidden picture? The “Magic Eye” books were a very popular trend of the decade.

Focus, look away, cross your eyes. I tried all of these techniques, but nothing worked. I clearly recall a family gathering, over 25 years ago, spending over an hour staring at a huge framed “Magic Eye” picture hung up in my uncle’s living room. Finally, it was my turn. My cousin shouted, “Just stare hard past the pattern, and blink twice.” And to my dismay, finally, a 3D shark became visible! My excitement was palpable! I froze, staring at that image for all of 40 seconds before my 2-year-old’s scream startled me. I blinked again, and the 3D image disappeared into oblivion. But that was ok, I had caught a glimpse of the hidden image after all my efforts, and that’s all that mattered. Total satisfaction.

Fast forward to the present day pandemic, and can’t we each say we have found the “hidden” image amongst the busy pattern after staring for so long?

I found mine in the backyard a few weeks ago. Behind our house, there is a pond that wasn’t accessible and barely visible until one weekend, my husband and son cleared the wooded area and created a path to walk down. That was their stay-at-home project.

I’ve never been one for hiking or for vigorous outdoor exercise, but I always enjoyed a short nature walk. So on one of those rare sunny, mild afternoons in April, again stuck at home, I put on my sneakers and headed down the path. Being totally alone, for starters, was pure bliss! Family togetherness 24/7 rattles the nerves at times. But then I came across a spot in the woods that my now adult kids would always talk about, and naturally, I was too busy to really stop and listen back then.

After walking a few minutes, I spotted a wooden bridge they had put up together with their cousins to cross the stream, all broken down now, a torn tent hung up in a tree, resembling a look-out post, and a muddy, faded Dunkaroo wrapper, a fave childhood snack. Over 20 years had passed, but I could still hear them stomping, laughing, splashing, having a great time down at the pond. And knowing their childhood was the happiest times of their lives, I felt so appreciative of having been able to give them that, and so warmed my heart.

So if it hadn’t been for this horrendous virus outbreak, I wouldn’t have this cleared path to walk through, taking in the sanctity of nature, and reminiscing of really joyous times.

And still now, many weeks later, when the dizzying, endless worn “pattern” of social distancing, quarantining, mask-wearing, hand-washing kind of days rattle me to the core, I can escape for a quick stroll down memory lane. The warmth of the sun and really good memories helps me to get through what’s in front of me. Hopefully we can focus on the “Magic Eye” image and not lose sight of it anymore even if we look away for an instant. I know that day is coming soon! Be patient, and be thankful for the silver linings that get us through the dark days we are facing.

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Fran was born, raised, married, and still lives in Mount Kisco, NY. She has four kids, including a teenage daughter and two precious grandsons, whom she babysits a couple of days a week. She also works part-time as an accounting clerk, helps run her husband’s excavation business, and lastly aspires to finish writing her book one day. Despite her crazy, busy schedule, she cooks almost every night for her big family and tries her best to keep up with the dishes! She truly believes spontaneity is the spice of life, and sometimes the very unexpected happens, but it’s usually all for the best. Enjoy her many tales of raising kids over 20 years; what an amazing journey!