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The Beauty of Dusk

The Beauty of Dusk Summary

The Beauty of Dusk from New York Times columnist and bestselling author Frank Bruni comes a wise and moving memoir about aging, affliction, and optimism after partially losing his eyesight.

One morning in late 2017, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni woke up with a strangely blurred vision. He wondered at first if some goo or gunk had worked its way into his right eye. But this was no fleeting annoyance, no fixable inconvenience. Overnight, a rare stroke had cut off blood to one of his optic nerves, rendering him functionally blind in that eye—forever. And he soon learned from doctors that the same disorder could ravage his left eye, too. He could lose his sight altogether.

In The Beauty of Dusk, Bruni hauntingly recounts his adjustment to this daunting reality, a medical and spiritual odyssey that involved not only reappraising his own priorities but also reaching out to, and gathering wisdom from, longtime friends and new acquaintances who had navigated their own traumas and afflictions.

The result is a poignant, probing, and ultimately uplifting examination of the limits that all of us inevitably encounter, the lenses through which we choose to evaluate them and the tools we have for perseverance. Bruni’s world blurred in one sense, as he experienced his first real inklings that the day isn’t forever and that light inexorably fades, but sharpened in another. Confronting unexpected hardship, he felt more blessed than ever before. There was vision lost. There was also vision found.

About the Author

Frank Bruni has been a prominent journalist for more than three decades, including more than twenty-five years at The New York Times, the last ten of them as a nationally renowned op-ed columnist who appeared frequently as a television commentator. He was also a White House correspondent for the Times, its Rome bureau chief, and, for five years, its chief restaurant critic.

He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers. In July 2021, he became a full professor at Duke University, teaching media-oriented classes in the school of public policy. He continues to write his popular weekly newsletter for the Times and to produce occasional essays as one of the newspaper’s official Contributing Opinion Writers.

The Beauty of Dusk Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

They say that death comes like a thief in the night. Lesser vandals have the same MO. The affliction that stole my vision, or at least a big chunk of it, did so as I slept. I went to bed seeing the world one way. I woke up seeing it another.

I went to bed believing that I was more or less in control of my life—that the unfinished business, unrealized dreams and other disappointments were essentially failures of industry and imagination and could probably be redeemed with a fierce enough effort. I woke up to the realization of how ludicrous that was.

I went to bed with more grievances than I could count. I woke up with more gratitude than I can measure. My story is one of loss. It’s also one of gain.

It begins in a bumbling fashion, with a baffled protagonist. That first morning, a Saturday, I struggled to figure out what had happened to me. I wasn’t sure that anything of significance had happened at all. Several hours would pass before I grew even remotely worried, before curiosity curdled into a vague, tentative concern.

I got out of bed sluggishly, my head full of lead. Bad Frank. Sloppy, undisciplined Frank. On Friday night, I’d had four generous glasses of wine with dinner when two would have sufficed. That had left me with a bit of a hangover, slowing down every part of me: my thoughts, my steps from the bedroom to the kitchen of my apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, my gestures as I went about making coffee. Coffee. That’s what I needed. Caffeine would surely jolt everything into working order. It would snap everything into place.

When I poured boiling water from a teakettle into a French press, my aim was off; I watched a puddle spread across the counter. Huh. How did that happen? I chalked it up not to a visual miscalculation but to carelessness, and while I was aware of a slightly hazy, swimmy quality to the space around me, I attributed that to the wine, and to what must have been fitful sleep, and to a week that had been more frantic than usual, and to the vagaries of energy and concentration. I was just dragging.

This might be one of those days when I needed three or even four mugs of coffee, a brisk run, a cool shower. I’d shift into gear at some point.

There was work to do. I had more than ninety minutes of audio to transcribe from a conversation that I’d had days earlier with George W. Bush’s twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, whose joint memoir, Sisters First, was about to be published. They’d granted me one of their first interviews about it, in part because I’d once written a column for the New York Times about the importance of siblings and it had touched them. Barbara had told me in an email that it was a small part of what prompted their book.

Transcribing the interview wouldn’t require any particular mental sharpness—it was a rote exercise, a matter of keystrokes, tedium and time—so I figured that it was the perfect chore for my languid state. I sat down at my computer, created a new file and began. And then, only a minute or two later, I stopped.

Why was I having to try so hard to make out the words on the screen? What explained the dappled fog over some of them? I took off my eyeglasses, reached for some tissue and wiped the lenses clean. I never did that often enough, and that was surely the cause—some random grease, some vagabond grime.

Back to the audio. Back to the typing. But the fog wouldn’t lift, and I noticed now that it was heavier toward the right than toward the left. Also, the words occasionally shimmied. Or did they pulse? I couldn’t describe it, not even to myself: It was at once subtle and unsubtle and so very, very weird. I doubted what I was seeing—or, rather, not seeing.

I cleaned my eyeglasses again, this time with a soft piece of cloth. I used another soft piece of cloth for the computer screen. The problem didn’t go away.

Apparently, the grime—the gunk—was in my eyes, or at least my right eye, which I determined from shutting one eye and then the other, testing each independently. And it was probably just some phlegmy residue from the night, some goo that I could splash away or flush out with water. I muddled through another hour of transcription, marveling at how the lines of type seemed to be tilted instead of neatly horizontal, then I hopped into the shower and turned my face toward the spray.

That, too, didn’t work. Nor did the four-mile run through Riverside Park after it, nor the shower after that, and while I know this may be difficult to believe, what I did next wasn’t panic or call a doctor or even mention this strangeness with my vision to my longtime romantic partner, Tom, who lived with me and just so happened to be a doctor himself.

What I did next—as I got ready for a dinner party at a friend’s apartment, as Tom and I took a cab to get there, as we ate and drank and laughed high above Park Avenue, the lights of Manhattan twinkling around us—was lean on my left eye and put my curious situation as far out of mind as possible. That twinkling was actually prettier than ever because those lights wobbled, just as the words on my computer screen had. I chose to be enchanted. I beat back any inklings of alarm.

I said that my story is one of loss and gain. It’s also one of faith, or of different, sequential faiths, beginning with my arrogant, unwarranted and since-abandoned conviction that everything was ultimately fixable, that humans of my place and time had devised ways to transcend the maladies and petty indignities—from soaring blood pressure to sagging jowls—that less invincible humans of less fortunate eras hadn’t. I’m a boomer, born in the last of the qualifying years (1946 to 1964), and thus the inheritor of a brand of overconfidence and a kind of defiance that don’t make adequate allowances for the wages of aging and inevitability of affliction.

We boomers are the weekend warriors who trade one fitness craze for the next in an insistence on permanent trimness, who try one cosmetic procedure after another in a quest for eternal tautness. And oh the trove of pills at our disposal: statins for out-of-whack cholesterol, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for depression, finasteride to keep baldness at bay, Viagra or Cialis for erectile dysfunction, allopurinol for gout.

I was taking a statin, finasteride and allopurinol when the vision in my right eye deteriorated, and I mention that not because those drugs factored into what happened—to the best of anyone’s knowledge, they were irrelevant—but because they partly explain my first-blush complacency. I believed in medicine. I believed in remedies.

I was fifty-two then. Over the previous ten years, I’d had one relatively harmless carcinoma surgically excised from my back, another erased from my nose by a chemotherapy cream. Painful inflammation in my shoulder had required an even more painful injection of a steroid, but damned if the injection hadn’t done the trick. The sciatic nerve running down my right leg had been screwy for a few months, but a prescription-strength analogue of ibuprofen and an end to jumping rope as part of my gym routine took care of that.

All of these ailments suggested a body in the throes of aging, but none of them broke my stride. I got the right medicine. I contorted or elongated myself into the right stretch. I adjusted my exercises. I did less of this, more of that. I pressed on, in firm possession of the acuity and energy necessary for fifty- and sixty-hour workweeks, for four to five nights of socializing every week, for summer vacations in Greece that might include steep three-mile hikes to and from remote beaches that Tom and I would sometimes have to ourselves. I clambered across seaside rocks. I swam. I flourished.

So my attitude about my right eye was that there would be a logical explanation and a ready course of treatment, if any treatment were necessary at all. How many ankle strains and neck crimps and headaches and achy feelings fled as suddenly and inexplicably as they’d arrived? I’d woken up to inexplicable blurriness; I’d wake up to inexplicable clarity. That Saturday night, after the dinner with friends, I didn’t set an alarm, and I asked Tom to be quiet when he got out of bed the next morning. A few extra hours of sleep would ensure my recovery.

But my vision was no better on Sunday. If anything, it was worse. The problem was still limited to my right eye, and when I tried to use it alone, closing the left one, I saw the shapes of objects but no details. The computer screen was just a wash of white light. The print in newspapers, magazines and books was indecipherable, a sludgy gumbo of fuzzy letters and blotchy word clusters with whole pieces missing. When I used both eyes, I could get by, but the bad one intruded on the good one, throwing a patchy mist over my field of vision, which sometimes seesawed and made me feel woozy.

I finally told Tom. And partly at his urging, I reached out to my ophthalmologist, an approachable man who had at one point shared his mobile phone number. I sent him a text message, telling him about my eyesight and asking if I was OK to wait to see him when his office reopened on Tuesday or if I should go to an emergency room. He responded right away, telling me that he happened to be a few blocks from that office and would meet me there in an hour.

It was just us: no other patients, no receptionists. He arrived so shortly before I did that many of the lights weren’t yet turned on. The darkness and the silence amplified how out of the ordinary this visit was and created a sense of foreboding.

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN1982108576, 978-1982108571
Posted onMarch 1, 2022
Page Count320 pages
AuthorFrank Bruni

The Beauty of Dusk By Frank Bruni PDF Free Download - Epicpdf

The Beauty of Dusk from New York Times columnist and bestselling author Frank Bruni comes a wise and moving memoir about aging, affliction, and optimism after partially losing his eyesight.


Author: Frank Bruni

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