The other day I helped a blind man avoid a wall. He was walking down the street. Basically he was about to collide with the friendly brick and perhaps get a black eye, broken nose, and maybe even get his teeth knocked out. I could see this, and so I helped him get where he needed to go. The blind man was immensely thankful. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like without eye sight.
In some ways it would be terrible. You could never see a sunset. You could never see a rainstorm. You could never see an art exhibit. On the other hand you would never have to see two ugly people making out in the park.
What one lacks one makes up for in other places. I have a friend Octavio who is blind. Once when we first met he guessed I was about five feet four and was blonde. He had never seen a picture of me and no one told him what I looked like. Once, when a friend of ours was having a moody day he approached Octavio. Octavio said to our friend, “Joe, didn’t see you there.”
Joe replied, “Cause you are blind.” And let out a smart assed laugh.
Octavio calmly breezed, “No, it is because your energy was off. What is going on?” Snap! Damn! And Joe’s crisis came out.
The thing about the blind is they have a sense of humor about their blindness. My mother student taught for the school of the blind. At twenty one she was a double major in physical education and special education at the University of Pittsburgh. When she got to the school and was in the same room with these high schoolers, my mother became aware of the fact she could see and they could not. This sense of guilt for her eyesight that she took for granted became apparent during role call. My mother didn’t want to be tacky and say, “Oh there you are, I can see you.” Well these kids were intuitive. Finally, after a painful minute of my mother’s stumbling one said, “Lady, it’s safe to say you can see us. We know we are blind. Most of us have been that way our entire lives.” Everyone laughed, my mother laughed, and it eased the tension.
These kids told my mother various disability jokes every day to make my mom feel at home amongst them. My mom actually thought this was pretty funny. When she taught them gym they had equipment that made sounds so these kids would know when the ball was coming their way. Despite the small difference to make up for their deficit in sight, they were actually hip, normal teenagers. My mom grew fond of them and was sad she had to go. However, many kept in touch with her and would send her cards from time to time written in Braille. Sometimes I think people get a little sensitive about disabled people and disabled jokes. Ironically, it’s the disabled people who have the best sense of humor.
Maybe they can see the world more clearly than we know.
Once I remember listening to an old episode of Howard Stern with a friend of mine that worked for the show. They had Stevie Wonder on. Usually when Stern has a guest on they insult them and the callers ask every vulgar question imaginable. However this was different. Stern was respectful and in awe of this man and his talent. The callers all called in with various requests. This segment was much different than the normal format in a magical way. Howard Stern did not make one crack at his man nor at the fact he couldn’t see. He was Stevie Wonder. Behind the piano he is a God. This man didn’t view his blindness as a handicap but rather used it at a catalyst to prove his haters wrong. Stevie is a legend, and they wish they had a tenth of what he had.
Point being, in this world we all have our strengths and weaknesses. It is not your weaknesses that stand in your way of being successful, but it is rather how you work around them that determines success. So I guess you have two choices in this world: to be blind or to see. What do you choose?April
I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
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