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

Star Gazer pickrellrebecca at gmail.com
Sun Nov 20 16:34:27 UTC 2016

			Plus, remember the adage "if it bleeds, it reads"

-----Original Message-----
From: nfb-talk [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of kaye
zimpher via nfb-talk
Sent: Saturday, November 19, 2016 10:02 PM
To: NFB Talk Mailing List <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
Cc: kaye zimpher <kaye.j.zimpher at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Fwd: NY Times: Feeling my way into blindness

Remember, he's 80. He's not likely to change his mind much and independent
living at 80 is quite different than independent living at 30-40.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Terry via nfb-talk" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
To: "NFB Talk Mailing List" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
Cc: "Terry" <wtfgunwork at gmail.com>; "NFB of Ohio Announcement and Discussion
List" <ohio-talk at nfbnet.org>; "Diabetes Action Network of Ohio" 
<a1c-ohio at nfbnet.org>; "Lee Martin" <nfbnewsline.in at gmail.com>; "Jeanetta
Price" <jmaprice at icloud.com>; "NFB of Ohio Cincinnati Chapter List" 
<cinci-nfb at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Saturday, November 19, 2016 10:47 AM
Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Fwd: NY Times: Feeling my way into blindness

>i think some of you that live close to this man should contact him and 
>start teaching him some indenpent living skills till we can find him a 
>program. when you first go blind you are scaried and donot know what 
>help is out there or were to get it.some of you need to tell him that 
>there is life after blindness. terry f
> On 11/18/2016 5:30 PM, Walter Mitchell via nfb-talk wrote:
>> 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:
>> https://m.facebook.com/NationalFederationoftheBlindofCincinnati/.
>> 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
>>> -------- 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
>> uncontrollably.
>>> 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
>> ways.
>>> 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
>>> 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
>> advantage.
>>> 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
>> life.
>>> 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
>>> 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-co
>>> un
>>> 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> .
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