<throwback to a trip to Bali with my Mum earlier this year>
As I peeled the covers off of me last Saturday morning, and habitually directed my vision towards my windows, I froze.
I rubbed my eyes… opened them… squinted… & rubbed them again.
I flipped out.
It was 5.44am and I guess it would be normal to have one’s vision hindered by the lack of light, but it was a little different that morning. I couldn’t see anything because everything was BLURRED – no shape nor forms, just a grey blur. I hadn’t switched on the light in my room yet so I didn’t realise that it was the sudden fog – which blanketed Munich City yesterday morning – that was affecting my vision, and NOT an unexpected case of eye disease/ formation of cataracts on my part – as my sleepy and slightly groggy morning self had thought.
Standing in front of the tabletop of my kitchen pantry and alone in my thoughts as I prepared a nourishing bowl of oatmeal to start my day right, I started thinking…
Why was I so fearful about losing my vision?
What was the cause of this deep-seated fear?
What does my vision mean to me?
What should it mean to me?
Am I too dependant on it?
I connected the dots and realised how fearful I actually am to have to be a burden – something which would happen inevitably if I were to lose my vision. It breaks my heart just thinking about the fact that normal daily activities like cooking, riding my bicycle, writing, flossing or taking pictures with my camera would never be possible again. The idea that someone else would have to constantly set aside time to make sure that I’m alright doesn’t sit well with me. Not at all.
I realised I also fear forgetting. The possibility of forgetting what my loved ones look like, forgetting what it looked like to be happy/ sad/ in love/ etc., or even forgetting how beautiful this world we live in is.
As I thought about all that I could lose through blindness, I realised that these ‘lose-able’ things are simply ‘add-ons’, aka blessings, in life which we can live without. I realised how little we actually need in life.
Happiness? Love? We can feel those by the energy the people around us give off. We don’t need eyes for that.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
I then recalled Plato, the Greek philosopher, who said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Struggles and difficulties often prompt us to find a better way/ rely on other abilities to help adapt to this new life. I figured that this better way exists for the primary reason that this way of living is the purest and most unstained way of living. It may very well be the way that we should be living.
People with less in life are somehow happier than those who have more. Doesn’t it start to seem as though the more we have in life, the more we are blinded from what life really is about, from the little joys in life.
Maybe I shouldn’t fear blindness as much as I do.
Being visually impaired would allow me to be patient. I would need to learn to be patient with others because I’d have to schedule my life around their schedules and “wait” for the help I need. I would also need to learn to be patient with myself. As a person with a visual impairment, there are times when I’d make mistakes and have mishaps. Everything takes a bit longer to accomplish, and I cannot rush or hurry very well anymore. This calls for steady perseverance and calm too. I’d have to give myself time and be kind to myself when I am working on a new skill or task. Life will probably be more peaceful as I expand my capacity for patience.
It would most possibly change my perception of the world and the people in it. Seeing people at face value would hold no value anymore. I would no longer be able to judge people in the same way by appearance, which in hindsight I am guilty of doing at times.
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller
I think I would also learn to trust those around me. With the challenges I’d face as a blind person, I’d imagine that if I didn’t trust in the kindness behind the actions of those around me/ or even total strangers, I simply wouldn’t be able to move forward in life.
“A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.” – Michel de Montaigne
I happened to be surfing the Internet as I was in the midst of planning a backpacking trip for next year and came across a journal entry written by an individual who was losing his vision due to a rare eye condition, Retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
He wrote, “One day my psychology instructor had asked me in front of the class what it was that I expected out of the day each day I got up. My response was simply, “I’m very thankful to be above ground!” The class erupted in laughter and I followed that with, “Everything else is a bonus.” This is what I believe to be a defining key in enjoying my life!”
Even as I realise the possibility to still truly live without sight, I would not wish I wasn’t blessed with it at birth. I was fortunate enough to be one of many granted our wish for sight and I will do anything I can to use it to do something great for this world.
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” – Mother Teresa