Surviving

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

2017 07 28: Journal Post Page 46 July 28, 2017

Well my journal finally screamed long and loud enough for me to realize that the story was sitting there, patiently waiting. Sometimes the really important things in our lives get moved to the side. Sometimes our attention becomes swayed towards the next amazing thing, or wonderful thing, or addictive thing, or whatever thing grabs you by the collar and jerks you sideways. I think it’s safe to say that the most important items of our lives always remain on the front of the shelf, so that we can’t help noticing them every time we walk by.

I’m not sure if this story of mine is an attention grabber, but as I’m writing it, it sure as hell is grabbing hold of mine.

Happy summer day to all of ya’s, and I surely do hope this finds you doing well.

dp

***
Page 46
Spring 2012

Spring 2012 instilled many changes into my life. My vision was basically the same, although from time to time the clarity of what I was able to see seemed to grow significantly. The window of vision still remained in the right outer peripheral in a small, vertical crescent moon shape, with a larger window of light perception that brought to me the differences between day and night, light and dark, what I knew was there, and what I couldn’t see. The left peripheral of that same right eye kept reminding me of a possibly total dark future, which I hated with a raged passion.

These small tantalizing slices of better sight usually only lasted a moment or two before I was pulled back into the dull and hazy gray halls of what I had become used to, and what I relied heavily on to help me maneuver my way through the day. The blue colors that I was afforded seemed to be the strongest, which fascinated me, as every time I was startled, the color blue roared in like a cloudless summer sky. I called it Wal Mart blue, and realize now that I’ve probably already told you this. Either way, these curtain calls of color had a great impact on me.

My emotions still came roaring in like a rush of high tide. Some days I seemed to be chugging along at a good clip, not thinking about being blind, not worrying about the rest of my life, not thinking about anything other than the day. I worked hard trying to stay busy, and my computer grabbed the largest chunk of my day.

As I said, the emotions rose and fell quickly, and without warning. Many times I would be overcome with a feeling of hopeless, helpless torment, which usually left me breaking down for a few minutes. It felt like a great power was scouring my heart and soul with a cleansing release of all the worry, panic, fear, frustration, and left me completely worn out. I didn’t like these sudden surges of emotion, but looking back I realize that it was happening for a reason. I’m still learning what that reason was, or should I say, what that reason, is.

That spring I entered the final phase of my O&M lessons with Rosemary. She and I had been trudging up and down the sidewalks of Waterville for nearly two years, and our relationship had grown tighter than ever. I still disliked my lessons, but always felt good about my accomplishments after they were done, and I was writing the overview of the lesson. There was one final assignment that she handed me, and when I first heard what it was, that usual rush of charged electricity set in motion the wheels of resistance that smacked me with the usual reaction, one of which I was neither proud of, or glad to see.

Rosemary laid out the final white cane excursion, but it quickly formed into much more than just an O&M lesson through the streets of Waterville.

To be continued…

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2017 06 23 Journal Excerpt: Page 37 June 23, 2017

 

Our lives are full of stories that we keep with us through time. The years are filled with trends that we latch on to with a ferocity for excitement. Myself, I have what you could call an addictive personality, so the trends, the impulses, the things that latch on to me become very addictive to me, and man do they have a way of changing me. Some of these trends, as quickly as they grab hold of us, they also can just as quickly pack their bags and move on down the road, rapidly being replaced by the next trend, the next impulse.

 

This next page deals with a couple of those trends, those things in my life that had a unique way of latching on to me. Some times we don’t notice one trend being replaced by another, but often times, we do.

 

It’s Friday, and I hope you all have a great rest of your day, and weekend.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 37

Summer 2011

 

There were many instances of my lack of concentration getting the better of me. Through it all, I had to learn how to trust my mobility instructors, and I’m very glad I did. Gaining trust in them allowed me to focus on the most important thing of all, my relationship with my cane. I had to learn how to trust my cane along with trusting my instructors, for my cane was also an instructor. My cane talked to me. It spoke in a language that I had to study, and as I began to understand the cane, I began to figure out how to open the doors of mobility., As I walked through those doors, I learned another lesson, probably the biggest one of all. I began to learn that I lost my vision so that I might learn how to see. The mobility, the assistive technology, the additional heightened senses, the inspiration that was coming at me, that was touching me, that began to rise up from within me, all of these additions to my life were so very unexpected, and to this day I’m still learning from each and every one of them.

 

Other emotions were having their way with me as well. It had been a year since the world had grown dark around me, and through the 2011 summer, I was constantly reminded of just how much I couldn’t see. I was a stubborned blind man with a passion for hanging on to my independence. I didn’t want to let go of the past, of my life with sight, and as the days progressed, small pieces of my past life, of my independence fell through my fingers and away from the present. Every time it happened, I shuddered inside as I lay another part of my past to rest. Realizing all of the things that I couldn’t do any more was a painful task that wreaked havoc on my vulnerable soul.

 

The tears that had flowed so freely began to diminish with time, and with each incident of bitter truth, I eventually felt like a damp dish rag that had been wrung out over and again and over and again. I tried to find things to feel happy about, but the happiness didn’t last long. The smiles quickly turned to a thin lipped frown that was full of anger, resentment and fear.

 

Man, as I write this, I’m being flooded by samples of those emotions. Here it is several years later, and the heart still races, the anxiety still rushes and the doubt still creeps in.

 

That summer of 2011 also saw me say goodbye to a dear old friend. I had written about my roto-tiller that sat idle through the summer of 2010. I wrote about pushing it back to the garage through half a foot of snow in early December. I wrote about how she hollered and screamed at me for just one more chance to run through the garden. As she cried, so did I. Another part of my past was slowly coming to a sad end.

 

I ended up trading the tiller for a 12 string Fender electric acoustic guitar in the summer of 2011. Lynne posted an ad somewhere that I would like to trade the tiller, and at just about the same time, she saw another ad from a gentleman in Moscow who was looking to trade his guitar for a tiller. That’s Moscow Maine. Grin It was meant to be, and saying goodbye to my old ground chomping friend was one of the hardest things I had ever done. If not for another girl entering my life at the same time, I don’t know what I would have done. Holding that guitar in my arms as he drove away with the tiller was the worst of times, and the best of times. I could hear my tiller screaming to me as he drove away, but I also heard a sweet 12 stringed lullaby softly playing in my ear.

 

Man, the emotions that swept down through me during these times was simply amazing. I guess they played a major role in helping to build a new foundation that started to replace the one that was being slowly demolished. Is demolish a good description? I’m sure there’s a more suited word, but at times it sure felt like it was truly being demolished.

 

Life continued to come at me. It didn’t care what I was going through. It didn’t care in the least. It was only able to continue on as before.

 

No matter what.

 

To be continued…

 

 

2017 06 22 Journal Excerpt Page 36 June 22, 2017

Here I go again on another emotional trek. It seems that’s mostly what I did back a few years ago. I lived a little, I felt a lot. It’s pretty safe to say that a lot of what I was feeling was so different, I wouldn’t have been able to put a name with the emotion. Fact is, if faced with those same emotions today, I probably still couldn’t pin a name to it. I lived it though, and learned a great deal from it, from them.

 

This next excerpt took me back to a place that I’ll never ever have to worry about forgetting. The level that this page grabbed hold of me was unforgettable, and the lesson learned was priceless.

 

I hope you’re having a great day, and I’ll catch up with ya later on.

 

Be well.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Excerpt describes summer 2011.

 

Page 36

 

With each O&M lesson came different situations which proved to supply me with different experiences. As my written overviews detailed the lessons, they allowed me to go back and explore those experiences from my own unique perspective. So many lessons accompanied so many memorable moments.

 

One of the most memorable of the bunch was the time when I didn’t care much for where the street ended. There I was, walking my way down the sidewalk, when all of a sudden, I took three or four steps onto a lawn. I turned to face Rosemary and asked her what the hell happened, and why I was standing on grass. I imagine she was smiling as she looked at me and told me to figure it out.

 

Well, I turned a quarter turn, then another, then another, and again asked her where I was. The panic slowly subsided, only to be replaced with a level of confusion that I had rarely faced.

 

She was very determined not to help me figure it out, and so as I turned where I stood, I tried to figure it out. The audio clues continued to come at me, but I couldn’t put them to any good use. I looked up to find where the sun was, then listened again to the sounds. Cars going by, children playing, a dog barking, they all mixed into my head like a chef’s salad, and for the life of me, I couldn’t find the ranch dressing.

 

Finally, as I slowly started to remember where we were, the neighborhood, the pieces of the puzzle began falling into place. The children were out at recess at a school that was at the end of the street where I had been walking. The traffic was running back and forth, which I knew was Pleasant Street. The sun was, for the most part, in the eastern sky, for it was fairly early in the morning. The grass? The grass? Really? Now, let me think.

 

And think I did, until a smile crept across my face.

 

Rosemary asked me what I was smiling about, and I began to tell her what I thought had happened to the wandering goat.

 

I had reached the end of School Street, which had the school on my right as I approached the street corner, the School Street and Pleasant Street corner. This particular street corner was not raised up from the street, but was flush with the street level, which explains why I didn’t detect it with my cane. I swept right past the tactile mat at the corner, not hitting it with my cane, and proceeded to walk right across the street without knowing it. Rosemary had walked up beside me as I approached the corner to make sure there was no traffic coming along Pleasant Street. There wasn’t, so she let me walk across the street, through the opposite sidewalk, which was also level with the street, and up onto the lawn of an apartment building, where I finally realized something was wrong and stopped.

 

This was one of the most awakening moments of my mobility experiences. I will never forget it, and as I write about it right now, those same emotions came rolling in. Remembering back, I am pretty sure that I had become completely caught off guard, mostly because my concentration had been broken. The sounds of the children outside playing at recess picked me up and carried me away. This was the second time we had been around that same block that morning, and I guess you could say I was feeling a little cocky. I was so self assured that there would be no problems to think through, no obstacles to work through, no dilemmas to have to problem solve through. It was just me, my cane, and my misplaced ego against the great big beautiful visual world.

 

Man how 8 seconds can change your attitude.

 

To be continued…

 

 

2016 12 13 Over the Hills and Through the Years December 13, 2016

Over the hills and through the years, the faces of Christmas change, but their message brings home the same joyous feelings of the season. Though I have changed greatly in appearance, manners and beliefs, my perceptions of Christmas, though seen now through the eyes of an older man, are still met with an innocence of youth that runs up and walks along side me. I am grateful for each season of the spirit, no matter what it holds, no matter how bright the shining light.

My son and grandson came to visit the other day, and as I sat and listened to my two favorite men over a wonderful dinner, and finally a competitive game of dice, I heard in their voices those same echoes of my past that continue to replenish my heart and soul. Although I couldn’t see it with my eyes, whenever my grandson smiled, I could feel it from my toes to my nose. It was the same feeling that I received when my son, his dad, used to continuously hand directly to me, for what seemed a thousand years upon a very special day.

I write often of Christmas. I remember as I write, and oh how those memories choose to nestle in and keep me company. From my childhood, to the family that felt so much a part of me the other day, I wonder if it’s all meant to continue with a story, my story that with each year that passes by, keeps reminding me of how uniquely all of the ingredients of the seasons mix and blend themselves into a story that keeps gaining in momentum.

Try as I might, I can’t seem to shake the feelings of family through the season of Christmas. Try as I may, the tides of emotion seem to grab hold of an older man and shake the life back into him. It’s something that I can’t avoid, and it’s something that, at times, I feel compelled to write about. Passages and phrases and metaphors can’t do it the justice that it deserves, but I continue to write, none the less.

I remember as a child sitting by the picture window in our living room on a snowy winter’s night. Sitting next to the simple colored candle lights in the window, I would gaze out across a field of twilight magic, and as a winter’s snow tumbled quietly to the ground, a calm feeling of peace crept over and down through me. Focusing on the amazing colors of the waning day outside the window, to the reflected images of the Christmas tree behind me in the living room, their competing brilliance was outdone only by the story of the season at hand. Once again, it’s hard for me to describe this feeling, except to say that whenever I’m able to catch a glimpse of it these days, I’m instantly transported back through time to a moment in time, a passage in time, in my time, when a young boy didn’t have to worry about the need to describe it. All he had to do was sit back in his chair, close his eyes and just continue being a young boy, innocently caught up in the pure magic of the moment.

I wish I could think of different words to describe the feelings. I wish I could figure out how to phrase the emotions and memories so that everyone in the world could know what was churning in my heart. I wish and wish and then, I am reminded once again that the best part of these feelings, these emotions isn’t how I might be able to describe them, rather the most amazing part of it all is in effect, born from the simplest ingredient of all. Love.

Something that you can’t describe as a child, continues to be indescribable as an adult. No price tags, no monetary value, no hidden disclaimers or sales pitches, but a straight to the heart word that carries with it a magic that I hope you all are able to grab hold of this, and every season forward.

I feel, I write, therefore, I write what I feel.

May the joys of the Season keep good company with you all.
From a snowy ridge in Maine.

DP

 

2016 05 15 Conductor May 15, 2016

And here we are, smack dab in the middle of another month. The 15th of May snuck in and took up right where the 14th left off, and I hardly even noticed.

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post, and I can honestly say that I miss those “poem a day” days of April. I discovered a lot, wrote a little more, made a few rhymes and created a couple of poems that I really enjoyed as I went and read them back.

It’s hard for me to say which style of writing I like the best. I do love to write poetry quite a bit. The musical flow of the texted lyrics have a strange effect on me. Sometimes when I read the words back, it’s as if a conductor is standing in front of an orchestra, and as he waves his baton back and forth, he smiles and closes his eyes as the melody lifts him high into the evening air and whisks him away, along side a soothing piece of music that only he can hear.

As the music flows, so too does the mind.

I love the flow of a poem. I love the highs, the lows, the rhythm and the movement from one line to the next. It’s a cascading, harmonic journey for me, and whether the poem rhymes or not, the magic of words never finds a home better suited than at home, in a poem.

Now I do love other styles of writing as well, such as short stories, fiction, non fiction essays, and the hundreds of different posts I have shared in my blog. There are quite a few short stories I have written that have taken my emotions and rocketed them to the moon and back. These emotions haven’t always been a companion of mine. As a young boy and man, I can rarely remember being caught up in my emotions the way I do today. In fact, the first time I remember being swept away by them was when I watched the 1982 movie, ET. How or why a little weird looking alien was able to hand me a box of tissues was, at the time, unrealistic for me, and to me. Never had I been handed a pocket full of tears as I was that day in Buffalo. Although I was a little confused with it all, I was also completely entertained and relished the memories of that movie for, well, until this day.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have no answers why as I grow older, that I’m seemingly more in touch with my feelings. If any of you are hollering out, “You’re a Metro Sexual Male?!” all I can say is that I don’t believe in trendy labels of the times. I mean, labels come and go, but feelings and emotions have been with us since a human first broke a bone.

Huh?

Never mind.

I do love to write, and although I haven’t been doing much of it lately, I still love to fill a page full of my thoughts, if for no other reason than being able to go back and read it myself.

What we go through in our lives is unique to us, and us alone. It is our life, our struggle, our emotions, our triumphs and our times to remember as we choose to. My memories are mine, and mine alone, and perhaps the reason I get caught up with emotions these days is because so much of what I go through is reminding me of those days gone by.

I know we all have memories, some good and some bad. Even though I have my share of less than good memories, they will never ever be able to hold a candle to those memories of mine that soothe my aching bones. Some of those memories of mine that make me smile are shared by others, but still, the ones that wrap around my mind are specially tailored for me and no one else. They are the ones that I can relate to, and as all of the new memories build and shape themselves, they’ll help define who I am as I become an older goat.

As the mind remembers back, the new memories rise up with each breath of this new day.

And again, another couple empty pages have been filled up with the gift of text. Never knowing where it’s going, it continues to go never the less, and on this 15th day of May, the breaths just keep coming.

Have a wicked good rest of your day, and thanks for the continued inspiration

dp.

 

2015 11 09 Left Foot Forward November 9, 2015

Some days you’re the person, and some days you’re the mobility cane. Some days your arm stops at your hand, and some days it extends all the way down to the rolling marshmallow tip of that same mobility cane. Some days the world comes to you, and some days you have to go to the world.

Lately, it seems as though I’m having to go to the world. Lately, everything seems to be two inches to the right. Lately, I’m about as blind as you can be, and being blind is the last thing I want to be.

I was down in sunny Florida with family a few weeks back. It was the first time I had seen my little brother in 9 years, as well as the first time since losing my vision back in 2010, and although I couldn’t see his face, when he spoke, I was flooded with memories of him, his smile, his eyes, his nose, his mouth and chin and ears, and I never actually felt sad that I couldn’t see him, because I felt as though I could. When he saw me, he came up to me and hugged me, but he didn’t let go, and neither did I. I felt closer to him at that moment than I ever had, and it was pure medicine.

Thinking back, a smile a mile wide just crept across my face.

I’ve often talked about how my other senses jumped up a couple notches since losing sight. There’s a lot more going on than just those heightened senses though. There’s an inner awareness that I can’t put a finger on. I don’t really know why, but I get these emotional waves crashing through me that fill every nook and cranny of my being. From the simplest things, to the more complex, when these moments grab hold of me, there ain’t nothing I can do except try to remember to breathe.

My wife and I were walking down an aisle at a grocery store a few days ago, and from a couple rows over, I heard a young child’s boisterous voice booming out to her mother. This little person probably couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4, and she had no idea just how precious she was, or he was. Anyway, as has happened to me a few times, when I heard this amazingly innocent tone, another one of those emotional swells rose up through me, and I couldn’t breathe, or swallow. It was wonderful. A true gift of the soul, and as I grabbed hold of the shopping cart, I shook my head and just tried to enjoy the moment, for what a moment it was.

I can tell you that my emotions have gone through quite a bit these past five years. I have felt grief beyond belief, but I have also felt a remarkable joy from time to time that perhaps I had felt before, but never paid mind to it as I do these days. What I can’t see, I can surely feel, and what my eyes don’t gaze upon, my heart gathers in and observes as never before.

When I was in Florida, our family clan got up one morning and set off for our daily attempt at taking on the day. I did my usual morning get ready stuff, which ended by putting on my favorite chocolate sneakers.

Thanks D. I love ya!

Anyway, later on that afternoon as we arrived back to my sister’s home, one of my siblings walked up to me and asked me if I knew I had my sneakers on the wrong feet.

Of course I didn’t, and of course I felt like a blind billy goat on a mission to confuse the enemy, which I more than likely did.

The room opened up in a round of laughter that lifted my spirits up past my overflowing humility.

Right foot, left, or something like that.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve gone more than five years without vision. It’s hard to think of how many miles I have walked on the moon. It’s hard to imagine how many words I’ve typed since those summer months of 2010.

I’m fortunate for having been afforded the things that have graced my life these past five years. I’m blessed for the people I’ve met, but mostly, I’m grateful for the inspiration that’s helped me to find the strength to keep sweeping my cane back and forth. Moving forward. It has a nice ring to it, don’tcha think?

Without the determination and motivation that I hear within the voices, my chocolate sneakers wouldn’t have many places to go. There’s only one direction that ever proves beneficial, and that’s forward. Not backwards, just forward.

Can you imagine a blind goat like me trying to walk backwards with a mobility cane?

Hmm?

 

2015 04 23 Poetry: Little Fireman Boy April 23, 2015

Hello April 23! How have you been? How about the rest of you? Good then, and here we go again.

September 11th will be remembered by every American, probably for all time. It should be, for it marks a turning point in our great land. The bravest of the brave came out that day to share their pride and love of country. They came to help each other, one another, and as the buildings fell, the flags across the land rose for the world to see.

One September morning, ten years later, my wife and I were driving into Waterville when we were held up in traffic for a parade honoring the first responders. It was a bright, sunny morning, much like the one from ten years earlier. As I sat in the passenger seat, my wife told me what she saw, and as I heard the roaring trucks and whirling sirens, I felt a rush of adrenalin unlike much of anything I had ever felt before. An emotional swell was building up inside me, and then, she leaned over to me and softly started telling me about a little boy who was standing on the corner, watching the parade. As she spoke, I could hear her throat tighten as she started to cry. Well, it wasn’t long before I was crying too. I pictured this little boy in my mind, and everything else seemed to fade away. The passion and the pride all made sense, once again. I remembered that I too was an American, and I too nearly burst with thee pride of a nation.

Three and a half years have passed since that morning of the parage. I will never forget it. I will always see that little boys face as he waved his little American flag, stared up at his father and smiled.

I wrote the following poem in memory of that day, and in memory from the morning of ten years before.

God bless America, land that I love.

Stand beside us all.

dp

***

Little Fireman Boy

He stood on the corner, so small, yet so tall
As the trucks rolled through, one by one
Air horns were blaring, as sirens screamed
Under the September morning sun

We sat there and watched, the misses and I
As the fireman’s parade rolled on through
This young lad dressed in full fireman’s gear
Stood tall as the sirens blew

With his helmet and mask and his oxygen tank
He stood proud as the parade passed on by
Standing tall in his boots that he filled up so well
As the roar of a jet filled the sky

He waved at the trucks that passed by him that morn
While the sirens continued to blow
Just seeing him there in that coat and those pants
Made my passion and pride start to grow

The honor he showed as he stood in his suit
Made me swell up way deep down inside
As I remembered that morning from ten years before
I reflected, and paused, and then cried

Never before had it all seemed so clear
Or so simple and proper and pure
This young boy standing so small and so tall
Was the hope, and the faith, and the cure

As the last truck went by, he looked up at his dad
His face filled with smiles and such joy
He had captured my heart and tugged at my soul
This brave little fireman boy.