As I pound down the sidewalk, careening around the onslaught of shadows coming at me in frenzy, I think to myself how wonderful it must be to be able to see. I think to myself how easy it must be to be able to get around without worrying about stepping in manholes, or tripping over curbs, or falling over trash cans, or walking into street signs or telephone poles, or guide wires, or bushes with thorns. I think how wonderful it must be to be able to have both hands free while you walk. I think how convenient it must be to not have to scour the dull and murky waters for any kind of a visual clue. I think how easy it would be for me to just say to hell with it, throw my hands in the air, my cane to the sidewalk and just stand here , waiting for someone to coddle me to the nearest convenient pity pot, so that I might make myself comfortably insufficient. I think to myself how foolish that would be, and continue pounding my cane against the sidewalk, dodging the shadows, and scouring my less than poor sight for the vague hints and clues that I have grown so fond of.
The old phrase, “It is what it is,” comes to mind as I make it to the next corner, and hang a right. I again think to myself how wonderful that I didn’t have to take a left, or go straight ahead and maneuver a street crossing. I smile though, knowing all to well that I can, infact, handle the street crossing. I can stand, and listen, and wait until the time is right, then cross the sea of moving metal non-tranquility. I have the tools, and I have the knowledge of how to use them. All I need is the patience afforded me by my own intellect.
I wonder what the people, driving the cars, must think as they watch me make my way through the busy streets. I wonder what they talk about that night around the supper table, and if I enter the conversation. I wonder if they realize that just a few short months ago, I was sitting in their car, with my hands on their wheel, steering down their road, not thinking about me, with a cane.
I am the first blind person I have ever met. The only other time I had seen a blind person, or noticed a blind person was on TV, or in a movie, or in a book. Anywhere, but in person. I wonder if the people I meet during the course of the day are also seeing or meeting the first blind person they have ever seen. There are a lot of us over here, but there aren’t a lot of us, out there. I don’t know about all of the blind folk, and I never would ever think I know what they feel. I just wonder if they think and feel the same ways that I do. Every blind person, or visually impaired person that I have met since July, 2010, is someone that I probably would have never met, or seen, or noticed. I would have gone on, living my life as I saw fit, unsuspecting that there were even any blind people out there. It just never crossed my mind. It just never entered my day, or my week, or month, or year, or life. It just never did, and I unknowingly, was not the better for it.
I write about a lot of things, and I think about a lot more. Being blind and seeing as how it is still relatively new to me, I find that it consumes a great deal of my day.
Who am I kidding? Being blind consumes 100 percent of my day. It never lets me sleep, or relax, or get away with not being blind. It is all consuming, and ever present. It is what I have become, and I am who I am today because of it. I suppose I should rephrase that last remark. I might just be who I am today, in spite of being blind.
I can not go more than fifteen minutes or so without thinking about it. The only time that I do, is when I am in one of my daily routines, and everything is going according to plan. I weave, bob, dodge, and feel my way through it all sometimes, and I don’t even think about the fact that I can’t see. I suppose that certain things I do, on a normal basis, I am able to do with fluid familiarity, and I don’t have to worry about any of it. None of it. It all just flows drifts and floats by me in a gentle, peaceful calm that I somehow find relaxing as hell.
This usually doesn’t last long though, as the variables of the day come banging in upon me, reminding me of their ever present force. It’s almost as if they are all in it together, coming up with a plan of attack that will certainly, and definitely pull me out of my wonderful and free state of mind, and rapidly propel me back into the on guard status that I know all to well.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, I took that right at the intersection. No, that was way too easy. Let’s twist it up some. Reverse direction, and hello Mr. Intersection, how are you doing on this find day in Central Maine? You sound busy as the dickens, as I am sure you are. Now, where is the push button for the audible crossing helper thing? There you are. I love that beeping sound. Funny, how a beeping sound can bring such a dramatic level of anxiety back down a couple of notches
I wonder what the people driving by are thinking about as they see me standing here, with my cane, waiting for the street crosser pedestrian thing to help me. I wonder if they even notice me. I wonder if they know that my heart is pounding out of my chest. I wonder if they can see that I am ready to jump out of my shoes. I wonder if they know how out of place I feel? I wonder if they know just how uncomfortable I feel standing here with this cane. I wonder if they know just how fortunate they are. I wonder if they’re going home, or to work, or to the store, or are just out for a nice, relaxing ride. I wonder if I will be able to find the opposite street corner, and not make a fool out of myself. I wonder if I can make out the faint lines of the crosswalk to guide me along. I wonder if I am standing tall, or all bent over in a huddled question mark.
I hear something, “Main Street walk signal is lit, Main Street walk signal is lit.”
Ok then, that’s my cue, and away we go.
As I pound across Main Street, I hold tight to my cane, and I wonder.