[nfb-talk] Fwd: NY Times: Feeling my way into blindness

Walter Mitchell walterl.mitch2 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 18 23:30:22 UTC 2016

Hello Listers,

This article in my opinion was written by someone that require a healthy
dose of NFB!

When I first lost my sight, I felt similar, I didn't want to live because of
the loss of my sight, but just when I thought that all was lost, I ran into
the NFB. They taught me that blindness is a physical nuisance and not the
end of my life. I began to raise my expectations and realized that I can and
is now living the life that I want.

I agree with some of the other listers, that maybe some should send in
articles that counter this article, but most  of all the writer need to
encounter the life changing aspects of the wonderful NFB!

By raising my expectations, I resumed my activities as a musician, extended
my career goals by becoming a business owner and I became a proud member of
the Ohio affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind.

Blind love is the answer, presently , and for our future!

Much Love,
Walter Mitchell
Member, NFB Ohio, Cincinnati chapter, Diabetes Action Network Ohio
Co-ordinator, NFB News Line Ohio
 (513) 582-8606 Mobil
(800) 340-8211 ext. 101  L2T Products and Services Toll free
Walterl.mitch2 at gmail.com Email

Follow the NFB of Ohio on:

Face Book, https://m.facebook.com/ohiosblind

Cincinnati Chapter:

Twitter @ohnfb, 
YouTube channel NFB OHIO

-----Original Message-----
From: nfb-talk [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of John Heim
via nfb-talk
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2016 10:17 AM
To: NFB Talk Mailing List
Cc: John Heim
Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Fwd: NY Times: Feeling my way into blindness

On 11/18/2016 09:13 AM, John Heim wrote:
> Sheesh! The NYT has been running a series of editorials from disabled 
> people. Some are worse than others. I hate to think of what effect an 
> article like the one below will have.  Maybe we should start 
> encouraging people on this list to send in some more positive articles.
> -------- Forwarded Message --------
> Subject: NY Times: Feeling my way into blindness
> Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2016 00:30:49 -0600
> Blindness is enveloping. It's beyond belief to step outside and see so 
> little, just a milky haze. Indoors, a smothering dark. It means that 
> you can't shed a mood of loneliness with a brisk walk down the street 
> because you might trip, fall and break something. Nor will you see a 
> passing friend, the sight of whom could be as cheery as an actual 
> conversation.
> Sights, like sounds, randomly evoke a surge of memories ordinarily 
> inaccessible that lighten and brighten the day. "Who are you?" I may 
> already have asked 10 people who have spoken to me. Their body 
> language as well as their smiles are lost to me. Human nature is 
> striped with ambiguities, and you need to see them, but like a 
> prisoner, I am hooded.
> I lost my sight once before, to cataracts, a quarter-century ago, but 
> it was restored miraculously by surgery. It then went seriously bad 
> again, until, reaching 80, I needed a cane. Tap, tap. Ambulatory 
> vision is the technical term.
> Everything becomes impromptu, hour by hour improvised. Pouring coffee 
> so it doesn't spill, feeling for the john so you won't pee on the 
> floor, calling information for a phone number because you can't read 
> the computer, or the book. Eating takes considerable time since you 
> can't see your food. Feeling for the scrambled eggs with your fingers, 
> you fret about whether you appear disgusting. Shopping for necessities 
> requires help. So does traveling on a bus.
> The kindness of strangers is proverbial - a woman leads me through the 
> bustle of an airport toward the taxi stand, a waitress hands me back a 
> $50 bill I mistook for a 20. Blindness is factually a handicap, yet an 
> empathetic one, because other people can so easily imagine themselves 
> suffering from it, sometimes even experiencing a rehearsal for it when 
> stumbling through a darkened house at night. I remember how in school 
> we teased students with Coke-bottle glasses, but didn't laugh at blind 
> folk whose black glasses signified that they couldn't see at all.
> I know about handicaps harder to cotton to, having stuttered terribly 
> for decades, my face like a gargoyle's, my mouth flabbering
> Blindness is old hat. In Africa you still see sightless souls led 
> about by children gripping the other end of a stick. Blindness in its 
> helplessness reassures the rest of us that that oddball is not an 
> eyesore or a loose cannon. Being blind is omission, not commission; 
> and you'd better learn how to fall. Paratrooper or tumbler training 
> would be useful. A tumbler can tip sideways as he lands so his hip and
shoulder absorb the blow.
> The ears need schooling as a locator. I search for the bathroom at 
> night, guided by a ticking clock whose location I recognize. As you go 
> blind, exasperating incongruities arise, but also the convenience of 
> this new excuse for shedding social obligations not desired. And you 
> can give your car away.
> Hearing snatches of conversation from invisible voices, everything 
> becomes eavesdropping. Have I seen my last movie? Is the vision gone 
> from television? But I can still see daylight and bipedal forms, tree 
> crowns and running water, swirling, seething leaves against the 
> sky-blue heavens, which remind me of 80 years of previous gazing on 
> several continents. Eternal instants on Telegraph Hill, Beacon Hill, 
> or Venice and Kampala.
> Splendiferous mountain vistas of greensward and cliffs scaffold my 
> dreams, drawn from memories of sheep pastures in Sicily and Greece, 
> rich with textured sedges or tinted canyons, then bombastic 
> skyscrapers, or Matisse's Chapel. So it's flabbergastingly impoverishing
to wake up in the morning.
> Faces are no longer seamed, nor are raindrops stippled on the 
> windowpane, cats high-tailed in a turf war, postage stamps vividly 
> illustrative. I forget my condition and grope for my glasses, wherever 
> they are, as if they could solve the emergency. Blindness is an 
> emergency; the window shades are drawn, and one deals with it in myriad
> Instinctively I reach out to touch everyone I talk with, heightening 
> the moment of contact. Shoulders I go for, as gender-neutral, 
> companionable territory, but most folks don't want to chat for long 
> with anyone whose deficits are front and center. There's sympathy 
> fatigue, though allowances must be made, an elbow gripped, and perhaps 
> the menu read aloud in a restaurant. Poor guy; be considerate; tell 
> him what the headlines were in the paper today, but if he's not Helen 
> Keller, let the next person take a turn at being nice.
> Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, 
> the Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.
> You get somebody to scan your mail for you outside the post office, 
> and supervise paying a bill in the return envelope, maybe even writing 
> the check for you to sign. Improvising keeps one alive, and at the 
> beach you can hear the surf thump if not exult in the spindrift's 
> curl. The tide tugs your feet. At 4:30 in midsummer you hear the 
> birds' morning chorus, nature primeval and ascendant. You dig when 
> you're blind, fingering for roots, then for what the roots are 
> connected to. Curiosity does tip into tediousness, though, when 
> there's no new material.
> Blindness as a metaphor is not flattering. Blind drunk, a parent blind 
> to the misery of her children, a politician blind to the needs of his 
> constituents. When blind you can neither read text nor frowns, but if 
> somebody starts talking to you and you can't see them, hang loose till 
> you figure it out. Equilibrium is the key.
> Eyedrops of several descriptions and optical devices accumulate as 
> each is superseded by another. You used different hand lenses for 
> different phases of magnification. Since a book or film is not in the 
> cards, blindly groping for succor in your boredom can be a danger. 
> That comfy stranger on the bench may be Mr. Ponzi. Discipline is 
> required. In all your parts, do you still enjoy being alive? Crossing 
> your legs and twitching an ankle, savoring cherry tomatoes, then sweet 
> corn and lobster.
> Nights can turn bright if the world mysteriously whitens, as though 
> one's optic nerves were rebelling. It's odd when one part of the body 
> dies but the rest does not. In blindness we don't cast off our eyes, 
> but continue to consult them in thwarted ways, much as amputees feel 
> their lost parts almost function.
> Feeling a chill wind, I'll look at the sky for a forecast, but 
> triangulate the slanting breezes for the message I can't see. I smell 
> the rain before it comes, and the sun speaks to my skin like a finger 
> stroking. As, in my view, joy in people may be analogous to 
> photosynthesis in plants, this is quite logical. But wet days can be 
> delicious also, a cool drink for dry skin 
> <http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/dry-skin/overview.ht
> ml?inl
> ine=nyt-classifier> , restful in its implications; good weather has 
> its pressures. Less is expected of a rainy day; you can hole up a bit 
> with yourself.
> Like Plato's Cave, your brain consists of memories flickering on a wall.
> The
> phenomenalities of sight are now memories, but my sixth sense has helped.
> Call it intuition; and I've never felt despair, any more than when I 
> was a kid who couldn't talk. Blindness resembles a stretched-out stroke.
> Functions
> wither as your walking slows. Muscles atrophy and sensibilities, too. 
> You can't size up a new visage, yet the grottoes in your head have 
> more to plumb if your sight was lost midlife or later. You can go 
> caving.
> Where are my eyes, I suddenly think, as if I'd left behind my coat.
> Landscapes become impressionistic, eliding details. Abbreviation is at 
> the core. Input is so precious - the conversations other people pause 
> to grant you, beyond the barest niceties, describing piquant scenery you
can't see.
> Strong sunlight is needed for a newsstand headline but muted 
> illumination has subtler uses, and in pitch dark a blind man is at an
> The personality of the street, hubbubed with hurry, invites strolling.
> Slatted fences, orange lilies, SALE signs in a window. "Outta sight!" 
> a guy exclaims. I seek a bench I know about, remembering a whole 
> gallery of friends who have died by now. Older than Mozart, younger 
> than Bach, they engulfed my life with love and commitment, and on a 
> good day permeate my mind. My sexual fantasies invoke an alloy of 
> wives and friends. But anonymity has swallowed me like Jonah's whale; I
grope inside.
> Sunlight beams turn the street radiant for a quarter-hour. Two of my 
> mentors ended their lives by suicide, and I remember their dilemmas 
> sympathetically.
> One jumped into the sea, the other the Mississippi, but I wonder in 
> each case whether the sun was shining or they'd waited for a rainy 
> day. Our elements return, in any event, to the oceans to re-form as other
> Nature is our mother, if no longer our home. We couch-surf in rented 
> beach houses, with green belts as habitat for other creatures that 
> remain. How many of us have watched a possum "play possum" or a 
> goshawk swoop after a blue jay? We feed pigeons and hummingbirds, then 
> have done with it. Nature has become a suburb. Of course I can't see 
> the cardinal at the feeder out the window, though tidal forces still 
> operate. The leaves natter even if you can't see them. Your ears 
> report their bustle, ceaseless until dormant for a span of moments. 
> The pulse in your throat signals that in your torso all is well; it 
> will beat till it quits. That concordance of organs lives within us 
> like sea creatures throbbing on a coral reef, strung there as on our 
> skeleton as long as conditions allow.
> Novelty is the spice of life and salts our daily round even when we 
> lose our sight. Your eyes don't steer you as you saunter, yet your 
> lungs, legs, arms feel as fit as ever. For simple exercise, I hoist 
> myself out of each chair, or bicycle in bed, though then unfortunately 
> may pick up two completely different shoes and try to squeeze them on. 
> My socks don't match either.
> But
> why am I not crankier? a friend asks. I'm helpless; I can't be cranky.
> Blindness is enforced passivity. I have become a second-class citizen, 
> an object of concern. Crankiness won't persuade people to treat me 
> thoughtfully. Disabled, that dry term once applied to so many others 
> over my lifetime, now applies to me. As best I can, I'll make my peace 
> with it.
> Edward Hoagland <http://www.edwardhoagland.com/>  is a nature and 
> travel writer, and the author, most recently, of "In the Country of 
> the Blind 
> <http://arcadepub.com/arcadepub/titles/11766-9781628727210-in-the-coun
> try-of
> -the-blind> ," a novel.
> Disability is a weekly series of essays, art and opinion by and about 
> people living with disabilities. The entire series can be found here 
> <http://www.nytimes.com/column/disability> .

John Hei	m
john at johnheim.com

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