Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Alternative Vision

on July 21, 2014

When I was in junior high, my friends teased me. They said that  I saw this as “the best of all possible worlds “, like the character in Candide.  In South Pacific Mary Martin sang that she was “a cockeyed optimist.” I preferred that comparison. And then came Monty Python’s movie The Life of Brian with its  sublime ending and the song “when you’re chewing on life’s gristle, Don’t grumble, give a whistle–and always look on the bright of life”. This I took to heart. I certainly no longer (if I ever did) think this is the best of all possible worlds but I’ve stuck with looking at the bright side of life – eventually.

About seven years ago I suddenly lost most of the sight in my left eye. I had glaucoma in that eye which did not respond to pressure-lowering drops. In the same eye, I had experienced two minor episodes of  blockage in the central optic vein leading to my retina. Both had healed on their own. Then came a perfect storm of eye pressure through the roof and a blockage which left me with severely impaired vision. My right eye still worked fine, though  I’ve slowly lost all sight in my left one.

At first I was stunned. It took a while to get used to the idea. I was fearful and hesitant about walking around outside. I had no depth perception now and stepping off a curb was an iffy proposition. Walking on uneven surfaces, like the bumpy grass patch in front of my townhouse,  was a challenge. I thought about it and realized that neither the curb nor the grass had changed. Only my vision was different. I decided to trust  my feet to know where they were going. I’ve learned a lot about muscle memory. Another problem was I now had a  blind side on my left. Driving on the freeway was out, though I still felt safe driving around my neighborhood. Walking on the sidewalk presented a new lesson to learn. I wasn’t aware of people coming up on my left side. Sometimes I drifted into their paths. Then aha! I discovered on a sunny day with the sun at my back I could see people’s shadows approaching an act accordingly.

Life went on much as usual. I began to like the new world I lived in. I discovered that not being able to do everything myself meant I had to rely on other people. One day I took the bus  down town. I had learned to trust the yellow painted railings to guide me down the steps and off the bus to the sidewalk. On this day I didn’t get off at my usual stop. I made my usual safe, if not graceful, descent from bus to sidewalk and was on my way. Except that this stop had an unexpected little step up to the sidewalk level that I tripped over. With a sinking feeling  I felt myself pitch forward. And before I hit the ground two men waiting to board the bus caught me by my arms and set me back on my feet. Another person who had seen my near fall and rescue commented “That didn’t take long.” And we all went our separate ways. My life intersected with those people that afternoon in ways not possible when I was a solitary person driving my car.

I am connected to the world in new and surprising ways. I trust that I can open my front door, walk out into the universe and have awesome adventures that teach me new things. I like “chewing on life’s gristle”.



3 responses to “Alternative Vision

  1. Wow – to lose even partial vision would be such a scary experience… I can’t imagine!

  2. Scott says:

    From my vantage point you have adapted well.

    My mother had a friend who stopped teaching when she lost her sight. She shared the fear of her new world with me and how she resisted learning Brail. However, being an amateur radio operator I occasionally chat with blind hams. She taught me how to enter my call sign in Brail on my QSL cards.

    • vivachange77 says:

      Thanks. I think I’ve adjusted well, too. I’ve had help. Before I lost the sight of one eye I met a young man who was president of the National Society for the Blind, He was accompanied by his guide dog named Visa, because Visa was his passport to the world. I have become aware of the almost unlimited possibilities for blind people. I’m not afraid of going completely blind because I know I can “do it” if I have to.( Though I hope that won’t happen.) This is very freeing. It’s great that you have your call sign in Brail. There is a blind man in our church choir who spreads out his Brail song sheets across his mid-section to “read” the notes.

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