Life is Hard

Things were easier when I had my eyesight.  Walking down Ashland Avenue, crossing at the light, strolling into the Swedish bakery, eyeing the breads, the cookies, the cakes.  Signaling for the counter girl and pointing to that one, no, that one right there, that’s the one.  Sometimes I want to stay home today because going out and going through all this effort seems like too much work, too much fear.  But when I put forth the effort, a lot of times the payoff is even greater than it was back then.  The reward is more generous, the breads and cakes much sweeter. 

 Here’s a story Annie Dillard tells in her book, The Writing Life:

Every year the aspiring photographer brought a stack of his best prints to an old, honored photographer, seeking his judgment.  Every year the old man studied the prints and painstakingly ordered them into two piles: bad and good.  Every year the old man moved a certain landscape print into the bad pile.  At length he turned to the young man.  “You submit this same landscape every year and every year I put it on the bad stack.  Why do you like it so much?”

The young photographer said, “Because I had to climb a mountain to get it.”

Blindness is an Olympic event: the movements remain the same; the degree of difficulty increases.  My trip to the Swedish Bakery requires minimal exertion.  But the concentration is exhausting.  Every trip is an adventure.  It’s effort versus payoff, risk versus reward.  And, aside from really great donuts, the reward is intrinsic.  It’s the sense of accomplishment.  Fear is a daunting foe.  Some days I need to push myself.  I don’t want to stay relegated to the sidelines, to the life of what might have been.  

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9 Responses to Life is Hard

  1. Beth Elman says:

    Jeff your writing is really inspiring!!

  2. Jenny T says:

    Hi Jeff, Thank you for putting into words what I and so many others experience on a daily basis. Some days, it can be so hard to push myself, but on those days, when I conquer my fears and my doubts, the rewards, as you say, are all the more sweeter. While sometimes I have to remind myself of this fact, I can safely say that, for the most part, my experiences have always been worth my efforts. Thanks for having the courage and willingness to share your experiences. I think Blazer and I will finally go visit the new bakery, which caters to humans and pets, that just opened near my house. Have a wonderful day, as I know Blazer and I will enjoy our own little adventure. Jenny and her wonderful and soon to be in treat bliss guidedog Blazer

  3. Yolanda Werner says:

    Jeff, this is the one. This is the post. Thank you for your words.

    • Jeff Flodin says:

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I am glad you found the post meaningful. Randy would love a bakery which features dog treats as well as those for humans. Stay strong.

  4. William (Colt) says:

    Jeff, thanks for your post. It hit home wth me. Fear of what’s to come with my failing eyesight is my greatest fear. I can deal with most everything else. But the not seeing. This really gives my stomach knots.

  5. farrboot says:

    Yes, really fortunate for Jenny & Blazer to have a friendly bakery nearby. Most of us would appreciate the aromas wafting out. And catering to pets – how wonderfully European! We could use a lot more of that sensitivity.
    I can’t stop myself from saying to William how this old woman feels about the loss of sight or hearing. I don’t think I have it looming over my head and surely am extremely grateful for that. I don’t know how that feels. But over some years I’ve given it a lot of thought and decided that, given the choice between the two, I think I would prefer to not lose my ability to hear. If I couldn’t hear the voices of my family members, the music I so enjoy, the rustle of the leaves in autumn, the grumbling and grunting of my precious Scottie dogs as they roll around while wiping their beards on the carpet after dinner, and a myriad of other familiar sounds I think the isolation would be unbearable.
    I hope I don’t sound insensitive; and it’s just one opinion. I can’t imagine how it is to not see loved ones and all the other treasured sights. My heart goes out to you all.
    Your writing, Jeff, is a gift of which you make good use. I always look forward to the next “chapter”. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jeff Flodin says:

      It is always a pleasure to hear from you, William, and from you, Judi. I consider myself blind because I have little to no functional vision remaining. I do not drive, read print, see faces or TV, and need a cane or dog for safe walking. But I have light sensitivity, can see some shapes and can tell if it’s a cloudy or sunny day. for this limited eyesight I am grateful. If the course of RP takes that remaining eyesight, I will be deprived of a very useful tool and I fear the effects. I believe there is much merit in Judi’s comment regarding eyesight and hearing. I believe it was Helen Keller who said (paraphrased) that eyesight connects you with things while hearing connects you with people.

  6. William (Colt) says:

    For me it’s the eyesight. Losing either is a tragedy. But I fear most not seeing my wife’s beautiful face one day. Of course her voice is beautiful, but her smile speaks too, and as long as I can see her smile, that’s everything.

    • farrboot says:

      Helen Keller: a truly amazing person – if only for the hope she gives us still.
      Not having walked in such shoes I’m unable to fully understand William’s fear. Apparantly we all have a role to play in the big scheme of things.
      I hope you’ll never lose the ability to see your wife’s beautiful face, William.
      And Jeff, the light sensitivity which is so important to you now, may it remain and forget to wane.
      Thank you for sharing and trying to help others of us to begin to know your feelings, fears, triumphs and courage.

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