The other morning, I was putting a plastic mixing bowl away in the lower cupboards of the kitchen. I stood up quickly and caught the corner of one of the upper cupboard doors right in the forehead. That one left a mark.
About three weeks ago, I was walking from the front door of the garage, through the inside of the garage to the back door. My foot caught the end of the dog ramp I built a few years ago. Down I went. My fall was halted when I piled onto the top of a Rubbermaid wheelbarrow. That left two marks. One of which was a black and blue on my stomach about the size of Kennebec County. The black and blue, not my stomach. My wife gasped when she saw it a day later.
This afternoon, I pummeled a kitchen chair with my shin. Knocked the stupid thing eleven feet across the floor. I don’t know if that one left a mark, because my shins are full of bumps and ridges.
If it’s not a finger, it’s a toe. If it’s not a toe, it’s another finger. A shoulder jammed by a door jam, a forearm walloped by a walloping butt of a door. A dislocated finger, next to a sprained one.
I remember one of the first head on collisions I delivered to myself back in 2010. I was strolling along Center Street in Newton Mass, minding my own business, sweeping back and forth, when all of a sudden, a telephone pole decided to jump out in front of me. My Red Sox hat went flying, my cane folded into five pieces, and down I went. If I didn’t have my hat on to deflect the blow, my nose would be even more crooked than it is already.
As dazed and confused as Robert Plant could ever imagine, I got to my feet, and as I usually do, or did, I tried to look around to see if anyone saw me. Of course, I couldn’t see a thing, being blind as a billy goat and all, but still, I looked, and then I looked, and one more time, I looked again.
As I brushed off my pride and gathered my humility, I took the hat handed to me by my orientation and mobility instructor. She asked if I was ok, and I assured her that I didn’t have a frigging clue.
My hat went back on my head, I unfolded my cane, and again, I started to sweep.
Eleven steps later, I walked into another telephone pole, and down I went, one more time. All of my progress that I had built up from the day spilled out onto the sidewalk, and my hat went flying, again.
As I gathered what little sense I could muster up, my O&M instructor handed my hat to me, again, and said that probably it would be beneficial if I had a longer cane.
I could do nothing but agree.
This life I find myself in has proved to be a non stop, never ending obstacle course, cleverly designed and set in motion by, umm, me?
What I think, how I feel, how I decide to maneuver through it, everything about my day revolves around my own actions. As I have written before, how I absorb, adapt and advance is reflected onto the outcome of how my day ends up. What I do, how I do it, how I react to it, how I learn from it, it’s how I have become who I am.
I find myself at different times of the day rummaging through familiar territory, so familiar in fact that sometimes I forget that I can’t see. It’s those times that I usually end up veering this way a little too much, or drifting that way inadvertently. It’s those times that I end up banging, or clanging, or smacking the crap out of an unexpecting part of my body. It hurts like hell, but usually for only a moment, and then, there I go again.
73 times I have hip checked the mirror on the Chevy. Thank god for those new mirrors that have the built in flexible joint thing. A hundred and eleven times I have slammed into the silverware drawer, unaware that I had left it open. Five hundred and thirty-seven times I have walked into the kitchen table, thinking I was headed for the living room. Six times I fetched the paper and started walking down the road towards Route 2, thinking I was walking back up the driveway. Those happenstances are kind of scary, but they don’t leave a mark.
As I become more used to being blind, I would hope that the banging and jamming and smacking would slowly come to a halt. On the other hand, as I become more adapted to sightlessness, I would imagine that I might become so used to certain situations that my focus might stray a little to the side, so, perhaps it might prove beneficial to wear a football uniform? How about a goalie outfit, complete with a fat bottomed stick, and an ice pack?
At the end of every day, my toes praise the inventors of hard soled shoes.