Lesson Learned

I’m talking to my friend David.  He’s been blind since birth.  I’ve lost my eyesight as an adult. I tell him, “You must have been frustrated as a child, not to be able to play with the other kids.”

“I played with the other kids,” says David. “I didn’t miss a thing.  I didn’t feel separate or different.”

“But you went to blind school,” I tell him.  “That must have made you feel different.”

“I learned what any school kid learns—how to survive. We went to classes and we went to social things like dances.  The only time we felt different was when some outsider felt sorry for us.”

“I hadn’t thought of it that way.”

“That’s understandable,” says David.  I mean, I didn’t fall off the same cliff you did.  My eyesight, my life as a blind person, has always been this way.  If life had always been one way for you, if you’d stayed a sighted person, you’d think differently.  You’d likely not have all this anger and grief and loss, at least not about your eyesight.  Hey, I read what you write.  It’s true for you.  Some of it rings true for me, some of it doesn’t.  Either way, it’s cool.”

“David, I’m going to write about the lesson you’ve taught me. Here’s how the story goes.  A blind writer thinks he’s so smart that he knows what you have been through, projects his feelings onto you and makes them yours, assumes you experience blindness exactly as he does, believes having one thing the same makes everything the same and needs you to feel anger and grief and loss to validate  his own.  Did I get that right?”

“One more thing,” says David.  “True for me or true for you, it’s all cool

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2 Responses to Lesson Learned

  1. bethfinke says:

    One thing that is true: David sure is cool. Thanks for sharing his wisdom here.

  2. Jenny T says:

    Hi Jeff, no truer words have ever been spoken. I think, sometimes, what is so hard about having a visual impairment is that other people think that all people who have disabilities experience them the same way. While my having a visual impairment does give me some insight into how others feel and how visual impairment impacts their lives, it is only that, an insight. The degree that I am pursuing helps me understand this, as working with children who have experienced severe traumas, has allowed me to understand that everyone experiences life differently. I have also learned this while living in different areas across the country and overseas. Thank you for your wonderful words. For those who celebrate, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Blazer is already anticipating providing his unique brand of quality control for the turkey, ham and biscuits. My sister is also baking some homemade biscuits for him, so he will be quite the spoiled man over the holiday. I just hope that the weather gets a little warmer, because the multiple layers I have to put on to go for a walk, to school and to work is just not fun. Jenny and her amazing guidedog Blazer

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