Two Michaels and Me

I just finished Michael Hingson’s memoir, Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.  It delivers all the title implies.  I rank it right up there with Michael May’s memoir, Crashing Through.  Both books educate, motivate and inspire.  Both men have been blind virtually their entire lives.  Both have vision.

Both Michaels seem fearless.  They tore around on bicycles as blind kids, full throttle, daring to crash.  Blindness was all they knew.  Me, I parked my ten-speed the moment my blind spots swallowed their first stop sign, at age 35, when my RP kicked in.  Vision was all I knew.   Maybe that made all the difference between us.  Maybe that made no difference at all.

Both Michaels seem, well, so OK with blindness.  They played the hand they were dealt.  Me, I looked for wild cards that would keep my hand a winner, keep me from feeling like it was the end of the world.

Both Michaels set goals, worked hard, and succeeded.  When I lost my eyesight, I felt my accomplishments were behind me.  Motivation became tinged with “What’s the use?” Both Michaels exude self-confidence.  Mine was replaced by self-consciousness.  I curled inward, frozen by fear.

I feel I’ve come a long way toward being comfortable in my own skin.  Still, after reading these books by and about these miraculous humans, I got kind of down on myself.  I felt inadequate next to these Golden Boys.  Then I remembered this is not about me.  I need not use comparison as my knee-jerk reaction.  I need not focus on differences rather than similarities. Do I truly believe I had to roll away bigger stones than they?  Or they
than I?  Every person, blind or sighted, has a meaningful story. Enough said.

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2 Responses to Two Michaels and Me

  1. bethfinke says:

    While you might admire these two Michaels and wish you could be more like them, I’d say I like you just the way you are. A little bit of self-confidence goes a long way, too much self-confidence can border on arrogance. You might remember that passage in my book about blindness making me narcissistic? Glad I caught that early, and since then I try hard to remember the difference between arrogance and self-confidence: Arrogance is needy and dependent on others, derived from comparison with the external. Confidence is free and independent of others, found and cultivated in the self. Keep being yourself, Jeff. I think you’re swell.

    • Susie says:

      I couldn’t agree more with what Beth wrote. You are a swell guy Jeff. I enjoy reading your posts as they are thought provoking, informative and many times, humorous. Love that tongue in cheek humor. Blindness isn’t funny but living can be so let us keep living and laughing and enjoying your posts! Thanks Jeff!

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