While most people equate sun with fun, I prefer overcast. This is not a mood disorder, for I radiate a sunny disposition. Rather, this is a matter of perception. A good, solid overcast removes glare from daylight and softens shadows through which I must pass.
Light perception, which I retain as a vestige of full eyesight, provides vital clues about my surroundings. I sidestep car headlights and aim for the light at the end of the tunnel. But light perception turns navigating on bright days into a guessing game. Is that a manhole cover or a black hole that drops all the way to China? Is that deep, dark shadow the mouth of a cave or just a leafy tree? Logic and experience suggest I am safe, but one can’t be too careful these days.
A pedestrian passing between me and the sun casts a shadow which I perceive as a baseball bat aimed at my solar plexus. For a passing truck, the shadow is a tree trunk. In either case, I recreate a scene from that Psych 101 video—the “exaggerated startle reflex.” My reaction, in turn, scares passers-by. They think I’m having a heart attack. And on such a beautiful, sunny day, that’s such a shame. And my reaction beyond being startled is to get mad at whoever startled me. How dare you cast your shadow across my path? Well, how dare you?
So, what’s a fellow to do? For one thing, my Seeing Eye dog, Randy, takes a lot of guesswork out of sunny day uncertainty. If Randy doesn’t fall down the manhole, I guess I won’t either. A white cane solves some dilemmas. And baseball caps help, too, but sunglasses make the whole scene too dark. Most of all, though, when shadows fall across my sunny disposition, I keep smiling. I want to exude cheerfulness; I don’t want people to think I’m having a coronary or a tantrum —or both.