It was a Saturday morning in October, and I was sitting at a large, round table in a motel in Bangor Maine. I had never been to this motel before, and I was only about a quarter mile away from where I used to work, just three years ago. I thought about the past, the present, and the future as scenario after scene danced through my head. I thought about what had changed in the three short years. I thought about how I had changed in thirty-six short months. I thought about the folks that were sitting in the same room, as the voices built up and rang out with a positive chime and a purpose that wrapped around the walls and settled in on the morning.
I pulled out my digital recorder out of my pocket and turned it on. Waiting for the small LED screen to power up, the room grew even louder as the anticipation of the day started winding up for the pitch. I caught a glimpse of the small screen lighting up and set the digital recorder down on the table. I don’t know how, but as I hit the “Record” button, the room seemed to get even louder. I smiled, and I laughed as the recorder captured the excitement in the room. It was inspirational to hear. So many influential folks in the room, and me, the new kid.
I smiled again and chuckled as I sat and listened to the swirling conversation. My digital recorder caught it all, and as I played it back a couple days later, I was in awe at the power that grabbed hold of the morning, that grabbed hold of me.
The 110th Annual ACB of Maine Convention was just about to get underway, and as I sat there, I wondered about all of the things that had happened to me these past three years that had led me to be sitting in that chair, at that moment, surrounded by all, of you. I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, and the reason was plain as day. I was supposed to be inspired, and there was no better place for me to be to achieve that than right where I was.
I didn’t say much that morning. I just sat and listened. I listened to the strength, the passion, the concern, the faith, devotion and hope, and with all of it happening in one room, in one city, on one day, well, I was one guy that was grateful for the opportunity. I was grateful and inspired and as the morning turned into the afternoon, it all finally started settling in on me. I was right where I was supposed to be.
I felt honored to be seated and to be listening to an event that so many folks had been a part of over the years. There were a few moments when I felt a little uncomfortable, mostly because I had met a lot of the folks there for the first time, and as usual, my old traits and habits took over, for a spell. They didn’t stick around long though, as a lot of my other old traits were no longer able to get any traction. The visual input had no significance on the day, and my imagination seemed to take a hard right, where before it had taken a wicked left. The audio input alone took control of me and away we went.
I tried to focus on what was going on, who was talking, and what they were talking about, but my emotions kept getting the best of me. This was so far from my old, ordinary life, that it seemed yet another dream had crept in and taken me away. With all of the energy in the room, I found myself trying to stay in my chair, but my mental escapades would snap me up and spin me around the room. With all of the new voices, the new messages, the new character of the room, I couldn’t help but continuously flip through my library of made up faces and expressions and gestures. The whole day was a gesture actually. It was so full of positive influence that I couldn’t help but fill my pockets as the day went along. I did feel a little out of place, but I have felt out of place since I lost my vision back in 2010. Actually, I have felt out of place many times in my life. As the day went on though, I felt more and more comfortable with where I was, with who I was, and with the folks in the room.
I have to say, being welcomed into the blind community is one of the best things that has ever happened in my life. It is without a doubt, one of the most important things that has ever happened to me. Your inspiration and devotion and steadfast determination has changed my life and pointed me in the direction that has helped me in too many ways to count.
I am honored to be a part of ACB of Maine. I am humbled to be included with such an amazing collection of incredible aspirations. I am embarrassed that I had to become blind in order to find out about you all. All the time, you have been right there at my fingertips, and I didn’t even know. So many folks don’t know. I suppose it’s hard to understand what I am talking about, what I am thinking, what I am feeling, unless you close your eyes for a moment or two.
When I first lost my sight, I felt as though everything disappeared. I felt as if nothing else existed. I mean, how could it if I couldn’t see it?
I am here today to let the world know that when I lost my sight, I slowly learned how to see. I slowly started hearing the voices. I started to slowly understand the message. I reached out, and you all were there. You all are still there, waiting for me. I’m struggling along, but I am still moving forward, towards you.
I am honored, and humbled, and inspired, and motivated, by you. I lost my sight to find out about you, to find out about your message, to find out about what I can be if I pay attention and keep moving forward, along side you.
The convention, in my eyes, was a great success. I do hope you all can keep the conference’s energetic momentum chugging along through the upcoming year. I will try my best to stay on top of my commitments, and look forward to getting to know you all a little better.
Thanks for being there for me, and thanks for bringing me along.