Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2017 05 27: Poetry, Sweep May 27, 2017

Learning how to use the long, white cane was one of the toughest tasks I have ever taken on. The more I learned, the deeper the reality dug in. I am fortunate to have had such a great instructor, and as the lessons continue to come at me through the course of the days, I realize that she was preparing me for the rest of my life.

This poem touches on some of those emotions, those anxious moments, those stepping stones that helped me reach this day, today.,

I’ll be back tomorrow for another journal excerpt, but for now, well, here’s hoping you have a great night.

Deon

***

Sweep
Written 09 29 2012

I grab my cane and sweep along, not sure of where to go
Shadowed lights and dull grayed scenes dot the void along my way
I listen for a clue, a hint, a reminder of where I would like to be
Stray reminders of yesterday’s innuendoes echo through my cluttered memory

Sweeping aside a dark, never ending world, tomorrow comes again
Tap aside the daggered edges of yesterday’s haunting whispers
Spirits lift me up and out of the chains of a coal black, midnight noon
A chorus of invisible lullabies keeps my dreams just out of reach

A question of mind, a hopeful stare, a passing plea for patience
Unseen ripples reflect from a stone cast from an unfamiliar shore
Friendly voices from hidden smiles lend a hand with welcomed comfort
Uneasy feelings tug at emotions that were never felt before

A heart pounds from deep within a core of fiery red
Passion for life bravely beats back the barrage of darkened foe
The staff, the motion, the sweeping steps, the screaming spirit within
Glowing through midnight’s plight, embers of my mourning lead me home

 

2017 05 26: Journal Post Page 9 May 26, 2017

This next excerpt was written in mid May, 2011. I know that a lot of the things in these posts are repeated, but I also know that the rise and fall of my emotions also were very repetitive during those days. It didn’t take much to set me off, and it seemed the more I cursed and cried, the more I realized just how hard I would need to work, because this new life just wouldn’t let go of me.

And the struggle to learn continued.

Happy Friday to you all, and I hope you get to smile today.

Deon

***

Page 9

As I look back to that point in my life I am faced head on with the reality that the person that I was, the person that I used to be has been laid to rest. The person that was looking back at me in the mirror has taken the baggage that used to weigh me down and left town. I can honestly say that I am glad he left. Now don’t get me wrong. He will surely pop in from time to time like an unwanted relative. I can not afford to let him stay in the guest room for not even one night. I can not afford to feed this unwanted guest any more. He can not be let in the front door any more.

I still am not comfortable in my skin, but I am starting to get to know the other guy that is surely staring back at me in the mirror. I can take my time to get to know this new person. I shed the skin of a complacent, non driven soul. I said goodbye to the sight, and welcomed the new vision. I have said on many occasions that I had to lose my sight so that I could see. I believe that more and more every day.

The long days of summer did seem to take a toll on me as the time dragged by. It is funny how slow the days seem to go, but then the week was done and it seemed to have flown by so incredibly fast. A perpetual blur.

July turned into August and I hardly even noticed. Summer had always been the highlight of my year, but with everything else that was going on, well, I just didn’t even notice it.

One day Lynne led me out to the garden so we could check on things as they grew. I had put so much effort into the garden that June. It made me mad as hell not being able to see how it was doing. I had always loved watching the garden grow. It was just so soothing and relaxing to me.

Well Lynne sat me down in a lawn chair as she walked through the garden. She was describing it to me as she started weeding the lower portions where the broccoli and turnip were.

I knew that the corn was in front of me. I could see a small glimpse of the hip high stalks swaying with the breeze. It was a warm day, as so many of those days in July and August seemed to be.

I got out of the chair and down on my knees. I then crawled to where the rows of corn started, and started weeding. It felt so strange, yet so wonderful to get my hands in the dirt and start pulling weeds. I had just finished weeding the garden the weekend of the 4th when I had the series of strokes that did me in. I had worked so hard weeding the onions and carrots. The carrots. Man was it hard weeding the carrots. I hated to have to, but felt so good when the row was all done.

I did manage to weed through the first two rows of corn. Lynne stood up and hollered at me. I guess she couldn’t believe that I was attempting to weed. Attempting? Hell, I was a weeding fool. The only thing was that I wasn’t really sure if I was pulling just weeds and not the corn also. She quickly informed me that I was indeed weeding just the corn. I made it through the entire two rows and only pulled 5 or 6 stalks of corn. I was shocked and amazed at how good I did. I felt good. I felt better than I had felt in quite some time. It was as though I had proven my worth for the first time since my vision loss. I had regained a taste of my independence, and it felt truly wonderful.

I don’t ever want to forget how good that day felt to me. I want to bottle those emotions and take them out on days when I am having a hard time. I need to be able to never forget how simple and easy it was to turn around my outlook on everything. I wanted my life back. I wanted it back in the worst way.

Those first few days in August were some of the most important of my life. I had a sense that things were starting to happen in my life. I was overwhelmed at times with the onslaught of being blind, but it didn’t seem to feel as hopeless as it had during those long dark days in July.

I was still in close contact with Leona and she continued to reassure me that everything was going to be ok. Somehow I knew it would be, just by the way she told me that it would be. I trusted her with everything I had. With everything I have. It was crucial that I took her positivity and ran with it. I needed an excuse to feel confident, and she was it.

I did finally meet Steve Sawczyn and Rosemary Houghton in those early days in August. I was so impressed with Steve that I can’t even begin to tell you. Now I should tell you that he has been blind since birth, and his accomplishments through his career as an assistive technology instructor have done nothing but grow. Everything he had, I wanted. The confidence, the intelligence, the savvy, the self assurance, all of it. I wanted it all.

I also met, as I said, Rosemary, She gave me a certain level of confidence that I desperately lacked. I knew that the orientation and mobility lessons with her would be some of the most grueling experiences that I had ever encountered. I was right, and this time I hated being right.

The first couple of lessons were very strange. I felt sort of cocky and that bothered me. I could not afford to be cocky in the least. I now look back and realize that I was showing off to her the fact that I could still see, even though it was a small sliver in my right outer peripheral, which was similar to looking through wax paper at dusk. I wanted her to feel that she was wasting her time with my lessons. I didn’t need them, not in the least. I could still see. I could still get around on my own. I could still have a brain transplant too, because nothing was ever further from the truth.

The fact is, I was blind. The fact is, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. The fact is, I needed help. I couldn’t do this on my own, and that scared the hell out of me. It scared me completely. I was completely scared beyond any doubt. Did I mention that I was also scared? Walking around with a long white cane made me more aware of my disability than any other thing. I knew that when the long white cane was in my hands and I was trying to stay on the sidewalk, that I was completely vulnerable. I was completely humbled by my new existence. I was ashamed, scared, humiliated, embarrassed, mad, pissed off, frustrated, and about 400 other internal emotions. I was in fact a blind man walking with a cane, because I was blind. I was a blind man walking on the streets of Waterville Maine in early August, 2010, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all, and there was nothing I could do to change it. Nothing. I could accept it though. I could accept the fact that I was willing to acknowledge my disability and ask for help. I was willing to start fresh and learn what I needed to learn about what had happened to me, and what I needed to do to learn to live with it. I wanted to learn how to learn to accept what I had lost, and look for things that I could learn so that I could start to live again.

I realized that it was going to be a long hard struggle, and I kept telling myself that I was going to see it through. No matter what, I was going to see it through. I owed it to myself, I owed it to my wife. I owed it to my son, and my grandson, and my folks and siblings. Most of all, I owed it to myself. I said that already, right?

I was the recipient of the fruits of my labor, and I sure as hell needed a chance.

Those first few mobility lessons were an eye opener for me of sorts. Never had I laid my heart and soul out there for all to see like that.

To be continued…

 

2017 05 08 Essay, Poem: Timepiece May 8, 2017

Hey everyone.

Something that I should have done right after finishing high school is to go to college. I didn’t go to college. Fact is, I dropped out of high school during my senior year. Yup. Fraid so.

I had a few distractions going on in my life back then. Man, was that back then. Damn near forty years ago. Anyway, I did manage to go to night school in my mid twenties, and after a little studying, coupled with a little testing, I was presented with my diploma. Holding that certificate in my hands was a weird feeling. It was as if I had finally caught up to where I was supposed to be.

Thirty something or so years later, I stepped onto the campus at KVCC. A much older man was I, and the visions I had were made up of unfamiliar and unexpected exhilaration.

I was met head on with so many variables that once again, it felt like I was trying to catch up. The powerful surges of electricity soon did catch up to me , and as the tides of excitement and inspiration rose in through the narrows, I realized that it was being harnessed and distributed from a group of four people who spent much of their day generating the source of motivation and inspiration, but they also had a very unique talent that enabled them to gather, enrich and redistribute that energy out into the student body that they represented, that they represent, that they will always strive to be a part of.

This post is dedicated to the cornerstone of my experience at KVCC. They are four of the most devoted individuals I have ever had the chance to work with, to look up to, to gain higher ground with. They are TRiO, and words will never be able to express my gratitude for how they have helped me, and how they have helped those who have walked towards them.

Lisa Black, Portland Wright, Michelle Gaines and Nick Runco. You are the four markers that represent a true path to achievement. I thank you all with as much humility and grace as I can.

Nicholas? You are my commander of text, my mentor of adventure, my guardian angel of digital motivation. Thank you sir, and thank you ladies for a source of inspiration that has reached out to so many.

The following poem is dedicated to you all, and in particular, Lisa Black. I haven’t had the chance to work with you, but from what I have heard from some of the other students, you, my dear, are a gift to those who cross your path.

The following poem is my attempt to describe what I have seen, heard, felt and experienced these past 2 years as a member of the TRiO program at KVCC.

Hats off to you four, and congratulations to those who will wear the caps and gowns this spring. It’s been an honor to walk the halls with you, and as I wish you all the very best, somehow, it’s fairly evident to me that this next chapter in your lives will bring you the experiences that dreams are made of.

Can you hear that? It’s a very reliable timepiece ticking away. It represents all of you, continuing to make your mark, continuing to create your future, one tick at a time.

Hats off to you all, and I gratefully accept your inspiration.

Deon

Timepiece

The semester is over
The classrooms are bare
Familiar sound drifts down the hall
A phone is heard ringing
At the North end of King
Someone quickly answers the call

Preparations have started
Plans have begun
New students are shown where to turn
Timid eyes gaze
At a welcoming smile
Inquisitive minds start to learn

With wide open eyes, a student begins
Affirmations of body and mind
KVCC TRiO quietly make their mark
A union like no other kind

A team stands waiting
A vision is cast
The students’ dreams are revealed
One by one
The yearning takes shape
A plan of success becomes sealed

New bonds are built
Friendships are born
Foundations are laid brick by brick
Weeks turn to months
Caps and gowns march by
As the timepiece continues to tick

Inspiration is born from where it began.
The tutor, the mentor, the friend
TRiO is formed from a vision of heart
A passion that time cannot bend

Dedicated to the incredible KVCC TRiO staff
Without your guidance, help and support, where would we be?

dp
Spring 2017

 

2017 05 07 Essay: Lessons May 7, 2017

I’ve had some lessons in my life. It’s safe to say that we all have. The thing to think about is how well we learn from our lessons. Now, if you’re like me these days, it might take a couple run throughs before the lesson fully sinks in where it can do some good. It’s not that I don’t want to learn, it’s that for a grand host of reasons, my soggy mush melon doesn’t retain things as good as it used to. I blame it on acquiring large quantities of cheap drugs, a closed head trauma, not enough chocolate and I’m fairly certain that there’s a few other reasons, but for the life of me, I, well, you get the picture.

Our lives are a constant barrage of one lesson after another. The do’s, the don’ts, the should have’s and the what the hell were you thinking’s. They all blend in seamlessly to produce a life like sculpture of ourselves.

Instruction manuals always seem to get lost, misplaced or thrown away. A lesson though, I mean a real good unforgettable lesson never leaves our sides. It’s always there to throw hints at us, remind us, guide us and sometimes give us something to laugh about, for humor always has an element of truth in it, and humility is as good a teacher as any lesson can provide.

Anyway, what we learn through life is a huge part of who we become. Some of my most embarrassing moments in life are also the strongest lessons I have learned. It seems the more the lessons let loose my emotions, the deeper they sink into my soul to mold future reactions to certain things. The phrase I use often is absorb, adapt and advance. Boy how that holds so much truth, which makes it nearly impossible to ignore, or forget.

When I woke up this morning, I was blind, still, again, and also. I enjoyed several moments during the day when I actually forgot that I can’t see. Those moments don’t last long, but they are pieces of my day that I embrace with deep respect. I’ve learned more lessons these past seven years than any other period in my life, and the learning continues each waking day.

Those lessons of our childhood are also made of the lessons that stand with us throughout our lives. Tie your shoes, look both ways before crossing the road, don’t talk with your mouth full, keep your eye on the ball, there’s so many of them that stick with you without even trying to remember them. Common sense can also provide great tutoring, but it isn’t a constant source that we can always rely on, for we, as unique individuals sway to and fro with our abilities that vary from one day to the next.

Our judgment is built on experience, which involves common sense and instinct. Is instinct a natural thing, or have we learned it along the way? Perhaps it is a combination of different elements of life that swirls around us, or perhaps we were born with the instincts and we don’t realize we have them until a situation calls for those inborn characteristics to show themselves.

Boy I’m getting spun around with all of this. I’ve taken a psychology class at school, a few sociology classes, and a couple humanities courses. They all weave in and out amongst themselves to help define who we are, and how we react, use and manipulate the lessons we have been afforded along the way. And oh what a way we have, with all of it.

I have learned a lesson with this essay, as I have with just about every other essay I have written. The hidden lessons, the ones with built in reactions, the ones that catapult our instincts to new heights, these lessons, the ones similar to the one I have learned while typing this written piece, you can never correctly put a value on the lessons we discover along the roads that build our stories. The truest lessons of all will forever remain a priceless piece of who we are.

Who says you can’t teach an old goat new tricks?

Take the lessons of your lives and feel the urge to learn. The energy found deep inside will totally amaze you.

Thanks for stopping by, and do take care.

dp

 

2017 04 28 Poetry: Dive! April 28, 2017

4 weeks and no days ago, it became the 1st of April, and as National Poetry Month steadily made its way to May day, there sat a poetic goat with hopes of making one more submission for the month.

I was gonna write, “I am the goat!”, but as I thought of it, I started thinking of that song that sang about a walrus with buck teeth.

It is the 28th of April, and I am here again with another one of my poems. This one crept up and started laughing at me, like a needed friend that always seems to find the need to get the last laugh.

Accessibility is a gift that I have a hard time with, but need very much. It’s something that provides me access to the digital world, but some days hands me a ticket to Unexpected Variables Avenue. Accessibility is key to the world of zeroes and ones, and although I use it every day, there’s those days that I wish I never knew about it.

The good with the bad comes with just about everything that stomps around on this big blue marble of ours, and as we spin around the sun, the world of assistive technology carefully plots a course for space station cyber.

Ok, ok, enough with the metaphors. Back to reality. Book one, page one, lesson one. All that this life gives us is meant for a reason, and I’m sorry, but I didn’t order that.
What I ordered was, um, was, hmm.

Never mind.

Have a great night and be well all.

Deon

***

Diver Down!

Accessibility is the key.
A digital desire.
One way signs and obstacles.
Tech support for hire.

PDF won’t speak to me.
Word doc’s playing dead.
Update button’s stuck again.
I think I’ll go to bed.

Shift key just went missing.
Backspace can’t be found.
The Tower’s acting really weird,
And makes a beeping sound.

Delete key sits there smiling.
Tab key’s fading fast.
Alt control has lost control.
The end key finished last.

Text to Speech stopped talking.
The six key thinks it’s five.
The mother board is sinking fast.
Dive! Dive! Dive!

 

2017 04 27 Poetry: All I Ever Wanted April 27, 2017

Click the heels and where are you? Does it look like the 27th? If it does, you arrived right on time.

Pretty cool, huh?

I joke sometimes that I’m going to school so that I might figure out what I wanna be when I grow up. I’m still wondering, especially on those days when I feel like I’m a 7 year old blind billy goat that needs a lot of practice trying to figure out how to be a 7 year old blind billy goat. I’m on a mission, and I will take no prisoners, unless they have ample amounts of chocolate.

Truth is, I never really knew what I wanted to be as I was growing up. None of the normal kid answers seemed to fit, and besides, I was too busy having fun being a kid.

Now that the kid has grown, or became a close facsimile, I think back to some of the moments of my youth. It all went by so fast, but some parts, the tough parts, the testing parts, they seemed to last forever. You know, time stands still? Ya, it’s true, or so it seems.

This poem reminded me of so many moments in my life when the learning was front and center. This is my submission for this 27th day of National Poetry Month. The sun came out today, and the warmth felt good on my face.

I hope you all saw the sunshine today.
Take care and be well.

Deon

***

All I Ever Wanted

All I ever wanted was to color inside the lines.
I did a pretty good job, but I colored the man’s face purple.
All I ever wanted was to be a big boy and watch my little brother.
I thought I was doing ok, until I couldn’t find him.
All I ever wanted to do was ride my bike, just like my older brother.
My dad took off the training wheels, and I fell over sideways.
All I ever wanted to do was hit a baseball like Carl Yastrzemski.
I stepped up to the plate, and struck out.
All I ever wanted was to sleep in the top bunk.
I rolled over in the bed and fell 4 feet to the floor.
All I ever wanted to do was ski down the hill like my older sister.
I made it halfway down and took a nasty header.
All I ever wanted was to do a summersault off of the rope swing into the river.
I swung out, tried to summersault, panicked, and splashed with a belly flop.
All I ever wanted was to bravely dive off the wall at the North Gorham swimming hole.
I took a deep breath, plugged my nose, and jumped in feet first, again.
All I ever wanted was to jump the curb with my skateboard.
I reared back, flipped the tip, clipped the curb and took another nasty header.
All I ever wanted was to have a girlfriend in school.
I nervously turned to talk to her and tripped down the stairs.
All I ever wanted was to somehow find a lady to love.
I didn’t have to. She found me.

 

2016 12 16 Holiday Poem: The Tipping Stick December 16, 2016

A dozen or so years ago, my family and I went down east Maine over Thanksgiving. My cousin’s family were into the wreath making business back then, and on one November’s morning, my cousin’s husband asked my son and I if we would like to join him to go tipping. This was the task of collecting tips from the branches of fir trees, to use for making wreaths. The trick was to only snap off a short part of the tips, so as to leave the trees in good shape to grow and keep supplying tips for the seasons to come. Upon snapping the tips, you would stuff the tips down onto a long stick until it was filled from top to bottom, approximately six feet tall. The Tipping Stick had a rope tied on one end that was used to secure the tips to the stick. Hauling a couple of these out of the woods was quite a chore, seeing as how the sticks, when filled, could weigh roughly fifty pounds each. .

I didn’t do too well tipping, I mean, I collected the tips fast enough, and filled a tipping stick or two, but I was snapping the tips too long for making really good wreaths. They required those making the wreaths to snap them again to bring them to the correct length.

The line in the poem referring to the Empty Rings is describing the steel rings that are used to make the wreaths. Until the tips were collected and taken to the wreath making shop, the empty rings sat stacked up in a corner, all alone and patiently awaiting the arrival of the fresh tips.

Anyway, a few years ago, we lost the best tipper that down east Maine ever knew, and this poem is dedicated to him.

***

The Tipping Stick

A Poem dedicated to Si

Trudge on, into the wood at daylights first call

The smell of the morning fir awakens the spirit

Daydreams of autumn unfold onto a shimmering dew

Eyes from the trees build with curiosity from above

Daylight’s growing rays scatter through branch and limb

With sticks at hand, and readied, the gathering begins

Through, over, around, into, under and beyond

Snap and pull, twist and push, pack and stack

Pausing to listen, the harmonies of the winds continue their song

Grace from high above settles a comforting hand onto the morn

Footsteps crisp with crackling leaf echo through the rolling wood

One by one, the tipping sticks fill with scent and shape

A white tailed gaze sends a charge through the heart

Tiny, scampering feet bring a warming smile

Morning doves and jays dance their chorus through the fir

Woodpecker and chick a dee tag along with familiar tune

Chilled breeze through the autumn wood bids a welcoming call

White birch lean in as they watch with curiosity

Morning shadows shorten as the day grows tall

Heavied sticks carry with them the magical smells of the season

Empty holiday rings patiently await the scented harvest

Hearty smiles reward and praise the morning’s heavy chore

As the sticks are emptied, the wooded fir sings out again with its beckoning call

A chilled November breeze welcomes the tipping footsteps once again