April 27th, 2007


follow-up to the epiphany post

My post yesterday didn't really capture the mood of the moment very well. Truthfully, I was falling asleep as I wrote it, and I kept catching myself making very strange typing errors that needed correcting. It was meant to be an expression of amazement rather than one of a need for advice. I talked to a professor about it, and I expressed it in terms of not realizing how much I had internalized the expectation that some blind people have that one should not use one's vision. I have never agreed with this philosophy, and I have defended a more moderate approach to education and adjustment for many years. I have always felt that while the use of blindfolds or sleepshades can have a purpose in teaching a skill, particularly when a person has never had experience learning to use their other senses and is losing vision, this should be the person's choice and should be discontinued if the person is uncomfortable. When I trained with Meg, I spent some time working with my eyes closed in order to promote trust because I was watching the traffic on the corners. After about a week of it, I grew very uncomfortable. I expressed this to my instructor. He casually said, "So open your eyes, and let's see how it goes." I had been expecting some angry tirade about how I needed to deal with it for the sake of the trust bond, I shouldn't rely on my unusable vision anyway, etc. That should have been my first inkling that I had picked up some messages of shame regarding the use of my remaining vision.

I can't really put what I'm driving at in words very well. It's something about the impact of the minimization of the remaining vision on my image of who I am. The fact that I can watch traffic movement and the events yesterday should tell me something about the usability of my vision; but I am still working under that childhood label and thinking that I have "light perception." More importantly, I am operating under the idea that my vision is a shameful thing and that "it is respectable to be blind," that what I am supposed to be is a blind person. To be blind is good; to use that vision is bad. What happened to me yesterday on that four-minute walk was an epiphany: a realization that this philosophy does not glorify God at all. It denies who He made me to be; and I need to shed it 15 years ago!

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