Shadowboxing

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.

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This entry was posted in Adapting, Blindness, Guide Dogs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Shadowboxing

  1. bethfinke says:

    Love the metaphor here. Sometimes people *do* cast a shadow on our sunny days, whether they intend to or not.

    _____

  2. Roger James says:

    To avoid the startle response, try walking with your eyes closed. This will develop more trust between you and Randy and avoid being startled all the time. There comes a time when some of us with RP need to forget about trying to struggle with very limited vision and just get along without it. Sorry if I sound “preachy”.

    Roger James

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