Surviving

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

2017 08 01: Page 46 and a Half August 2, 2017

Ok then, and here we go, again. This following page isn’t from my journal, but rather from the series of lesson overviews I wrote back when I was taking the O&M lessons. This particular overview describes the last lesson of the original structure I worked from following my initial vision loss of 2010. This overview is rather long, and I apologize for that. I didn’t want to cut and chop the original piece, and figured it was best as it is.

I thank you for your patience, and hope this finds you doing well.

Best to you all, and away we go, again.

dp

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Page 46 and a Half
2012 05 14 Mobility Lesson Overview

Let me start this lesson overview by saying that this will probably be my last written lesson recap , as my orientation and mobility program is winding down. It has been a long, hard, difficult and grueling twenty or so months since I first held a mobility cane, and there has been a lot learned. I have overcome and worked through many different obstacles in this time. I have been shown how to deal with different dilemmas, and have been taught the skills necessary to take on the world and be an independent traveler. I have been shown how to work through difficult situations, and I have been praised, as well as reprimanded, when the time was right. I have learned how to take my fears and worries and nightmares, and turn them into a tremendous opportunity for growth and maturity. I have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to turn the frightened, vulnerable person from those dark days in early summer 2010, into a capable, independent individual, who just happens to be blind.

This last lesson proved to be one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It proved to be some of the best learning blocks I have been able to be a part of. It proved to be one of the best days with my cane I have ever had.

Several weeks ago, Rosemary told me of the lesson that she had in mind, and left it up to me to come up with a plan of attack, and to carry out the lesson on my own.

The objective was to plan a trip from my home, to the Apple store, located in the Maine Mall in South Portland, where I was to meet up with Rosemary. At first, I wanted nothing to do with this lesson, and cringed at the thought. These initial reactions were the norm for my ordinary past characteristics to something of this magnitude. Over several days of thinking about the chore I had been handed, I continued to fall back on the promise I made to myself when this journey of mine came to be. I remembered that I promised myself that I would not walk away from any challenge that presented itself to me, no matter how much I wanted to. This promise has proved to be more than beneficial to me on many occasions, as I have been confronted with many obstacles and situations that I would have normally run away from. Once again I was confronted with another difficult task that I could not afford to veer away from

Trying to lay out the lesson in my head proved to be rather confusing at first. I guess I try to figure it out in one fell swoop, and without being able to jut down notes, or map out the lesson on a piece of paper is quite trying at times for this soggy melon sitting on my shoulders.

The first thing I needed to accomplish was to learn the schedules of the three different buses that I needed to use on the lesson. The first bus, the KVCAP bus from Waterville was fairly familiar to me, as I had taken that particular route a couple times in the past few months. It was determined that the best time would be the 8:30 bus, which would put me at the Concord Coach terminal in Augusta at approximately 9:15 that morning.

After calling the Concord terminal, I was able to plan the second leg of the lesson, which would have me on a bus, departing from Augusta at 10:15, and arriving at the Portland terminal at around 11:25. This part of the lesson had me a little worried as I failed to fully prepare for the transition from the Concord Portland terminal, out to the Portland city bus stop, which was the starting point of the last bus leg of the lesson. I also had to do some last minute preparations for when I arrived at the Maine Mall. When I say, “last minute”, I literally mean it, as the last leg of the lesson was not fully initiated until I arrived at the mall.

The calling, and planning by me was done rather sporadically, in that I did not follow each step of the planning in an orderly fashion. I ended up zig-zagging from one step, ahead to another step, then back a couple to one of the earlier overlooked steps. I was a little upset that I let my planning get distracted, but I suppose that by having the end product reaching the initial goal, well, it all worked out in the end.

In the future, I should be able to better sort out the planning, and make sure that each step is done in order, so as to not have the burdens of loose ends cause any grief during the actual trip.

After getting a ride from my wife to the Concourse in Waterville, I hopped onto the 8:30 bus to Augusta with no problems. There was one other gentleman waiting for the same bus, and we struck up a nice conversation.

I informed the bus driver that I was going to the Concord Coach terminal, and asked her if the bus drop off point was in front of the doors, or would I have some maneuvering to do in order to get inside the terminal. She informed me that she would be able to drop me off directly in front of the terminal entrance. She did, and I entered the building with no issues. After strolling carefully through the open room of the terminal, I was asked by the head clerk if I needed assistance. He directed me to the counter, where I purchased the ticket for the 10:15 bus to Portland. I asked him if it would be possible to have some assistance when I arrived in Portland, as I needed help to get out to the bus stop to catch the Portland Metro bus to the Mall. He told me that he would call the Portland terminal to let them know, and also let the bus driver know. I felt perfectly at ease with this information, and settled into a seat to wait for the departure time.

The next hour was filled with sounds of travelers arriving at the terminal, in anticipation of taking the Portland bus. It did get rather loud and busy inside the terminal, and this did create a little anxiety for me. I have always gotten excited in situations such as this, and without the visual input, I felt a little uneasy by all of the commotion going on around me. Please understand me though, when I say that the level of anxiety that I did feel was very small compared to how I would have been just a few short months ago. I have learned with my lessons, and am able to take charge of my emotions, so as not to let them overwhelm me as they have done so many times these past two years.

The bus departure was announced over the loud speaker, and I could tell where the passengers were leaving the terminal towards the Portland bus, so I got up and started maneuvering towards the doors to the bus. I was approached by the head clerk, and he told me he would be happy to help me get out through the doors, and onto the bus. I told him I would appreciate the help, and was told to wait in the lobby, as he had to go out first and help the driver load the bags into the storage compartments of the bus.

I did take a few steps towards the doors, as I could see the contrast from the light outside. As I approached the doors, I was asked by a passenger if I would like some help outside. I accepted his offer, and made it out to the bus, and in line to board. The driver of the bus came up to me and introduced himself to me, and then offered assistance to board the bus. Once again, I accepted the offering, and soon found myself in the front seat, immediately behind the driver. I sat down and took a deep breath, and felt relaxed, as I had an hour to go before I arrived in Portland. This would supply me with ample time to regain any lost composure, but it also gave me time to recapture some unwanted anxiety, as I was still unsure of the next part of the lesson.

The bus pulled into Portland on time, and as soon as I exited the bus, I was approached by an employee of the Concord Coach’s Portland terminal. He introduced himself to me, and said he would be able to help me out to the Portland Metro bus stop. I felt like I had cheated some how, as this seemed to be a little too easy. I had major concerns about this portion of the lesson, and having him sighted guide me all the way out to the bus stop, well, it was a very good feeling, and I think I shook his hand eleven times as I thanked him.

As I stood at the bus stop enclosure, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I felt a sense of pride. I felt like I was a million miles from home. I felt a little like an out of place wandering nomad, looking for the next ride to take him to places unknown. It felt exhilarating, and scary, and unbelievably electrifying. I had been in Portland so many times in the past, but this was the first time I had felt like I was really “in” Portland. I felt a little overwhelmed with all of the sounds and smells and as I stood there, I realized that at that particular time, I was experiencing the end results of all of the hard work I had done in all of my lessons. I was being rewarded the fruits of my labor. I was being handed something new, and for the most part, I knew exactly what to do. It felt good, and new, and strangely appropriate.

As I waited for the 11″35 bus to the mall, a young girl came up to the bus stop. I could hear her drop her heavy suitcase, and immediately asked her if she was taking the bus out to the mall. She said that she had been on the bus from Augusta with me, and that she was taking the bus out to the airport, and wasn’t sure if it was the same bus that I was waiting for. The bus stop apparently had a placard on the inside wall that contains the bus routes and numbers of the bus line, and as she studied the information, she told me that indeed, we were waiting for the same bus. I smiled as another piece of the puzzle fell into place.

She told me that she was heading home to New Mexico, and had just finished her year at Colby college. I told her that I lived nearby Waterville. She seemed a little preoccupied, and restrained from talking to me, so I ended the conversation.

As she told me that she needed to go back to the terminal to get some change, the bells from a nearby railroad track sounded. Once again I was hit head on with just how far from home I was, and how vulnerable I felt. This feeling didn’t last long though, as the sound of the approaching bus took charge of the moment.

The bus pulled up to the stop, and the doors opened, with the driver shouting out to me, asking me if I was going to the mall. I smiled and hollered yes. As I approached the bus, he informed me that there was about a foot gap between the curb, and the bus entrance. I thanked him as I climbed on board. As I handed him the fare, he informed me that there were seats open right away on the left. I quickly smacked my way to an open seat. Just as I sat down, I felt a large bag plopping onto the seat to my right. It was the young girl whom I had been chatting with at the bus stop. I smiled, sat back, and took another deep breath. Another piece of the puzzle had been firmly put in place, with just a couple more to go.

The bus ride to the mall was full of all types of audible excitement. The sounds of the air brakes, the city traffic, car horns, sirens, and the sounds of the passengers in the bus, it all sounded wonderfully busy to me. It sounded as though I was listening to a movie. It sounded like I was heading to the mall, and as I smiled again, the bus loud speaker bellowed, “Macy’s, Maine Mall, next stop.”

The bus stopped, and as I got up and moved towards the front of the bus, the driver asked me if I needed help exiting the bus. I smiled, and politely told him that I didn’t. He again told me that there was about a foot gap between the bottom step, and the sidewalk. I thanked him again, and smacked my way down the steps, and out onto the sidewalk in front of Macy’s.

I swept and took several steps until I found the wall of the store, where I turned, took another deep breath, and smiled as I reached into my pocket for my digital recorder, and my cell phone.

I had recorded all of the information that I would need for the trip on my recorder, and quickly found the recording for the Mall Security phone number, which I called. I told the officer on the other end that I had arrived at the Macy’s stop of the Metro route, and that I needed assistance to get into the mall, and to the Apple store. After ending the call, I leaned onto my cane, and wondered if Rosemary was near the area, watching and waiting. I smiled again, and chuckled under my breath.

A couple minutes later I heard the faint sound of keys jingling, and wondered if it was one of the security officers approaching. It was, and as I took his arm, I smiled again. The last piece of the puzzle took it’s place. The finished product, nearly complete. I was on my way into the Mall, and to the Apple store

As we arrived at the store, he asked me if there was someone I was supposed to meet, and what they looked like. As soon as I described Rosemary, I heard her voice behind me, to my left. At that point, I started celebrating in my mind. The confetti and balloons started falling, and as the master of ceremonies congratulated me, I took another deep breath. I had made it. I had successfully thought out, planned, and carried out my last mobility lesson. The hardest lesson of all. The most gratifying lesson of all. The ending lesson of a long line of mind bending, twist turning, gut wrenching stepping stones of the past twenty-one months.

I thanked the Security Officer, shook his hand, and turned my attention to Rosemary. she asked if I was hungry, and I assured her that I was. We made our way to the area of the mall where the food court is located, with her sighted guiding me through the Mall.

We ordered a sandwich and found our seats, and as we sat there and ate, I couldn’t keep from wandering back through the past few hours. I kept going over the lesson, step by step in my head. I tried to stay focused on our discussion, but I found myself still sitting on one of the three buses, making my way to Portland. I felt wonderfully good, and as I took one more deep breath, I was able to take in all of the sounds of the Mall. I had grown up nearby, and had been in the Mall a hundred times during my youth. I knew exactly where I was, and exactly how I got there, and it felt satisfyingly wonderful.

We talked and ate our sandwiches, and then made our way back to the Apple store, where we got some information on some of the apps that are available for their products. I also got the chance to play a little with a new iPad. The store was alive with the sounds of technology. My heart was racing, and I tried to take it all in.

As we left the store, and headed outside to Rosemary’s car, I actually got a small sorrowed feeling that the lesson was finished. I realized that we still had an hour and a half ride back to Waterville, but the lesson felt like it had come to an end.

The ride home was full of discussion about the lesson, the past year and a half, and all of the things that blended into it all. Rosemary told me several times how proud of me she was, and how confident I looked as I stepped off the bus at the Mall. I suppose after hearing this from her, and from others, that it might be starting to sink in that I do have a strong appearance to other people. That how I appear to be on the outside is perhaps slightly similar to how I feel on the inside. Perhaps the scared little boy is starting to look and feel like a competent, capable, strong willed man. Perhaps I may fully take hold of these feelings in the future, but I must hold tight to that scared little boy on the inside who is constantly seeking experience and maturity. I need always remember where that scared little boy has been, and all that he has felt, and been scared of, and overcome, and held passions for. I can safely say that all of what that scared little boy has to offer, will always have a place in the life of the man that stands before the mirror these days. I can never let myself forget how far I have come, and will hopefully never lose focus on how much further I still have to go.

I realize that my journey is not so different than most peoples, in that I have to wake up every morning and live it, no matter what may come along the way. I take on the day, one step at a time. I live my life, one sweep of the cane at a time. I am like all the rest in that respect.

I remember back to the days that followed my sudden loss of vision, and I reflect back on how alone and fearful I was. I remember how much of my life I wanted to trade off. I would have given anything to have been able to work out a deal with God to trade all of my woes, misfortunes and just overall crappy luck for another day of sight. Just one more. That’s all I wanted.

I realize today that my life is right where it is supposed to be. All of the twists and turns that have led me to this day are for but one reason. I have learned what I needed to learn this past couple of years. I still have much to learn, and will take it on, one experience at a time.

I also feel that I needed to learn about other people as well. I needed to learn how to really feel gratitude. I needed to learn how to ask for help, and graciously accept it when it was offered. I have learned how to step back and feel the complete electric charge of pure humility. This, more than any other feeling, has helped me to overcome, and conquer my tightly twisted emotions that had been such an unanswered part of my life. I am able to feel those same emotions these days, and ride them through the experiences that have enabled me with so many wonderfully different learning moments.

I have so many things running through my mind as I write this overview. It is hard for me to put most of it into words, and as I try to get them into this document, I drift back and forth through time.

I realize that my future is at best, uncertain. I also realize that if I continue on the same paths of the last twenty or so months, I will be better prepared to handle the uncertainty of my future, one sweep at a time.

I can never properly express my humbled thanks to the Division for these learning opportunities, and for having such a wonderful instructor as Rosemary placed in my path. I am where I am today because of her devotion, steadfast drive, determination, and wonderfully natural guiding instincts. I am blessed to have been given the chance to work with her, and have grown quite fond of the comfortable feeling of knowing that she has always been just a few steps behind me, ready to teach, ready to praise, and ready to steer me straight.

I realize that every time I leave the comforts of my home, I will embark on a new mobility lesson. I realize that all of the variables of the day will continue to come cascading in on my world.

I also realize that I am no longer fearful of the unknown as I once was. I am ready, willing and able to tackle the rest of my life, one mobility lesson at a time.

To be continued…

 

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 21 Journal Excerpt Page 35 June 21, 2017

Emotions come, and emotions go. The distance between coming and going can feel like a lifetime, but it consists of all the things that life is made of. A recipe of living, breathing, experiencing, discovering, welcoming, and yes, veering away from. Millions of steps towards a sunset, along a sunrise, away from the rain and towards a familiar face, it all brings us to that certain spot where, for some reason, we’re meant to be.

 

And here we go again.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 35

 

Through the rest of summer 2011 I did manage to stick with the two groups, and as the writing assignments piled up, so too did my confidence in writing overall. I had started writing short stories and poems about my experience of losing my sight, and as I almost forgot to tell you, late spring 2011 I started my blog. I can’t really remember how I got pointed in that direction, but as I write this entry now, late spring 2017, I am still writing and posting to my blog, which is entitled, Surviving.

 

I started the blog on Google’s Blogspot platform, and with the help of my then assistive tech tutor, Mike Adams, figured out how to do it. We spent a few sessions going over the ins and outs of blogging, but time and time again I was met head on with issues with the blog site’s accessibility features, or lack there of. Before I knew it, the moderator of the second writer’s group told me about WordPress, which was another blogging platform that, from what Jacki told me, was far more responsive to the needs of those like me who used screen readers.

 

I switched over to WordPress, and am still using their website today. I think I’m hovering around 400 or so posts to my blog, and am right now in the process of posting a series of entries containing this journal that I’m writing in right now. I posted page 25 today, that’s 25 posts, 25 days in a row, and I still have a few to go, especially seeing as how I am lengthening the size of the journal as I write. Grin

 

 

Turning back a couple months, Rosemary and I started back with O&M early spring 2011, and although I didn’t look forward to the mobility lessons, I knew that I needed them greatly.

 

Our favorite stomping grounds were in the city of Waterville, and away I went, following my white cane with a blonde haired woman ten steps behind me. She didn’t have me do any more lessons with blindfolds on, which was a reason for me to jump for joy. What little sight I had was lending me a hand, as it was giving me the opportunity to find and identify landmarks, as blurred and dull as they were. Contrasted items proved to be the most benefit for me, especially with snow on the ground. Bare pavement, parked cars, telephone poles, buildings against the sky, they all soon became my best friends. I learned very quickly though just how many tricks my poor, limited vision could play on me. I remember once sighting what I thought was a telephone pole between the road and I. I soon found out that the pole wasn’t next to me, but across the road on that sidewalk. Things like that really spun me around and smacked me upside the head. A reality check supreme.

 

Our excursions around downtown Waterville usually included a stop into a small Main Street sandwich shop, where we both usually ordered bagels and a coffee. I fell in love with their asiago cheese bagel. As we sat and consumed our drinks and foods, we usually discussed the lesson. I was able to go over issues that I was encountering, and how they were affecting my ability to maneuver behind the cane. Rosemary began asking me to write up overviews of the lessons, which turned into assignments that I emailed to her upon completion. At the end of our time together, I compiled the documents into one single manuscript, which I sent to her as well. I should turn that into a book some time in the future.

 

The lessons over those next few months were a constant reminder of my blindness, but they also helped to open my eyes to what might be in store for me. Rosemary kept telling me that besides feeling vulnerable, frightened, scared, angry, frustrated, inept, uncoordinated and mad as hell, I exuded a level of confidence with the way I carried myself as I maneuvered down the sidewalks of Waterville. She kept telling me that I stood tall as I walked behind my cane, and that people were always noticing me. I was fairly certain that the reason they were noticing me was because I was a very unusual sight. She continued to disagree, and kept telling me that whatever I was feeling inside, it didn’t show on the outside.

 

There were occasions where my mobility lessons ended up being a learning experience extraordinaire. I shrug these incidents off as extreme lessons, and believe me, the emotions that accompanied these instances were very, very extreme. ,

 

To be continued…

 

 

2016 04 04 Poetry: I April 4, 2016

Another day, another dollar three eighty five. Oh my. Look at the shiny coins.

Squirrel!

Ok then. I’m back, and I’m focused, or am I?

Have you ever thought you knew what you needed to know, only to find out that you were incredibly wrong? Yes, this has happened to a goat I know on a number of occasions. Actually, on numerous occasions, or is that the same thing?

It’s April 4th, 2016, and don’t look now, but you’re probably eventually going to end up heading towards something that you are totally unprepared for, and it’s probably going to sting, a little, and maybe a lot, but there’s only one way to find out, right?

This poem below is one that I just finished writing a few minutes ago. It’s quick, to the point, and although it continuously seems to avoid the point, it eventually took me to a place I have been a few times, but ended up being completely unfamiliar with.

And then, the day keeps coming atcha.

Thanks for stopping by one more time, and I do hope you keep on finding the courage, the strength, the faith that you’ll end up exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Take care, and here we go, again.

dp

***

I

I’m sorry
I didn’t know
I didn’t think
I didn’t realize

I wasn’t paying attention
I wasn’t looking out
I wasn’t expecting it
I wasn’t ready

I ask for forgiveness
I ask for understanding
I ask for compassion
I ask for guidance

I will try harder
I will try again
I will try one more time
I will try and try

I’m slowly catching up
I’m really working hard
I’m giving it all I’ve got
I’m almost there

I can almost see it
I can almost feel it
I can almost hear it
I can almost sense it

This isn’t the right one
This looks completely different
This seems out of place
This isn’t what I was expecting

Am I in the right place?
Did I make a wrong turn?
Have I misunderstood?
Do I look confused?

I made a mistake
I apologize
I’m sorry
I,

 

2016 01 05 One Scoop, or Two? January 15, 2016

I went out and shoveled the driveway a couple days ago. I didn’t do it because I wanted to. I mean, who in their right mind would ever want to shovel a driveway, right? Thank God the frozen white stuff was the light and fluffy kind, for I really didn’t want to have to over exert myself, although I could use it.

I’m getting soft in my semi old age. In fact, I’m probably in the poorest shape of my life. I don’t really understand why, I mean, I get my proper nourishment every day. Ok, ok, I admit it. Some days I don’t have my recommended daily allowance of milk chocolate, but I more than make up for it the next day, or the day after, ok?

Tell you the truth, I had a hell of a time shoveling. It felt like a taste of those old panic attacks I used to get a few years ago. Maybe not quite as strong, but along the same lines. You see, as I have said a few times these past few months, my vision is nearing the end of its existence. I can’t see what I used to, and what I used to see just plain sucked. I guess I had grown complacent that the limited vision I had since 2010 would be with me for eternity. It wasn’t much to work with, but oh how I worked it. A landmark here, a door frame there, a shiny line of chrome, topped off with my two favorite trees on either side of my driveway, and I was all set to go and get some for myself.

As I slowly and deliberately pushed my snow scoop back and forth down the driveway Wednesday morning, I was faced with a deep, dark blackness that I neither welcomed, nor found any hope of being able to use. It was midnight at 10 o’clock in the morning. My two favorite trees were gone, my shrubs in front of the porch had disappeared, my garage door had vanished, the blue spruce that pointed me towards the East had up and walked away, and I was standing there, waiting for a car to go by, so that I might regain my orientation.

I find myself these days leaning and reaching as I make my way around the inside of my house. I am constantly searching for counter tops, chairs, door jams, doors, and anything that lends a hand with getting from one room to another. My wife keeps telling me I need to use my cane around the house, and I keep telling her that I will never use a cane around the inside of my house. I guess the sniveling little brat of a goat is hanging on to a sense of dignity that perhaps even I don’t understand.

No matter what it is, or called, or referred to, it’s what’s in front of me, and as I go after it, over and over again, you might say that I’m preparing for battle against a foe that will never get the better of me.

At least that’s how I approach it on most days.

My wife, God bless her, is putting up with an oil tanker full of crap that no one should ever have to endure. She has been my anchor these past six years. Hell, she’s been my anchor since 1980, and as I have said before, I owe her my life, and then some.

She has chosen to stay with me, for sicker, for poorer, for goat be in debt up to his goat caboose.

As I was saying, as I made my way down the drive with my snow scoop in my hands doing what snow scoops normally tend to do, the familiar shards of slighted sight were nowhere to be seen. I can’t imagine how the driveway looked after I finished, I mean the edges must have been as if a demolition derby wreaked havoc on the linear edges of the perfectly manicured attempt at snow removal.

As I stood there, leaning on my scoop, I listened for the oncoming traffic up and down our road. At one point, I stood there for what seemed like a goat day, until a lone car came slowly down the ridge. I was trying to gain some orientational clues as to how close I was to the road.

Is orientational a word?

As the car rolled by, I pulled out my talking calculator, my T square, my daylight savings sun dial, my bag of chocolate chips and equated that I was still 20 feet or so from the end of the drive, so, on I scooped, back and forth, South to North, and as I finally broke through the packed snow at the end of my mission, I smiled deep inside, for once again I had found a way to get it done.

I swung the scoop out in front of me, trying to find the mail box, and after several pitiful attempts, “Clang!” there it was, the steel pole of the newspaper box. Five feet further south, and there was the mail box, in all its frozen glory, waiting for me to pluck its prize, and pluck the prize I did.

With a smile, a sigh of relief and a feeling of accomplishment, I headed East up the drive, and realized I now had to try and find the front porch door again.

Orientation’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.
If you can see what you’re doing, please take the time to try and remember what it is that you see.

Have a great day, and thanks for stopping by Surviving.

dp

 

2015 12 14 It Ain’t Easy Being Green December 14, 2015

It’s not easy being green, or blue, or lavender, or blind. It’s not the norm, the average, the trendy, or politically correct to not be able to see. It’s abnormal, variational, unusual and unconventional to be lightless, sightless, non visual or blind as a bat. Fact is, there isn’t much about it that I particularly care for.

A member of an email list I belong to offered their resolute opinion that even though I lost my vision rather rapidly, I should have been more prepared for the unexpected, that with my lack of preparation, I fell into a deep well along with those that didn’t take responsibility for their own lives, that I didn’t adequately take the steps to make sure that if I did lose my vision, that I’d be ready to take on a visual world with a mobility cane, a good concept of the Braille language and an abacus to figure out how much money I was spending while grocery shopping.

Huh?

I’m afraid no matter how I might have anticipated the hardships that life can throw at you, I would have been nowhere near as prepared as this person thought I should have been. Granted I wouldn’t be any further behind where I am right now, but chances are, I wouldn’t have been any further ahead either.

Oh ya, did I tell you? This person has been blind since birth, which in my eyes makes a huge difference. I’m wondering how they could have gauged where I, or those like me should be, I mean there’s got to be a huge difference on how you live your life when you’re born blind, compared to if you lose vision later in life, and suddenly to boot.

Ok, ok, ok, I’m starting to feel sorry for myself, and that’s my worst enemy. Self pity might feel comfortable at times, but he ain’t no friend of mine. He doesn’t do anything positive or constructive; he doesn’t listen to inspiration or cause admiration. He doesn’t lend a hand, except for reaching out to grab hold of an undeserving hand out, and he’ll never show you the right way to go, only the easiest route with the less obstruction possible. I guess “He”, could easily be, me. Fact is, he looks just like me on any number of days, because it doesn’t take me long to start feeling sorry for myself. A couple wrong turns, a jammed finger, a busted toe, a misplaced item, or one of those, “Now where did I leave it this time?” moments of pure non-clarity.

I can’t see much any more. A little sliver of light, a dull shimmer where a bright glimmer used to be, a darker than usual version of what dark looked like just a few months ago, and here I am, a blind billy goat on a mission to find a new way to live.

I’m sort of wanting to tell my wife that I’m sorry. I want to tell her that sometimes I know how hard I need to work at this blind thing. I want to tell her how much I love her for putting up with me, in all my cane sweeping glory. I want to say, thank you, and I couldn’t be as blind as I am without your guidance, support and love.

I also would like to say something to the person who thinks I dropped the ball. I’d like to let her know that outside of her own life, she has no idea on how to be me. She has no clue what it takes to live my life day to day. She has no clue, and therefore, although she might find this hard to believe, she is clueless.

I know what I need to do, and some days I’m able to do it better than other days. As long as I never forget what it takes, and what it’s taken, then things should work themselves out.

If they don’t, there’s always more chocolate.

Thanks for dropping by my blog, and as we head towards Christmas, take a second to look around you. The way that it is, exactly as it is right now will never, ever happen again.

Goat Be Gone.

 

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?