Tuesday, June 15, 2010

To See Or Not To See


I was blind for five years (1998 -- 2003), a fact not frequently acknowledged in my day-to-day life. (It took another three years (2003 -- 2006) for me to recover from the trauma.)

"Blind" is a hard issue for people to discuss. There are few journeyers who have entered that world, fewer still who have been and returned. Discussions on the subject of what it is like to be blind threaten the most hardy of the still sighted and belie adequate discription by those who are not.

I was, however, not "black blind," but "like seeing through waxed paper" blind which was quite blind enough!

In terms of acknowledging the situation, no doubt I am as much a part of the lack of dialogue on the topic as anyone else. The problem for me is that a lengthy period of my life was lived, by me, in a place to which others could seldom relate. Nor would they choose to as an option. There are few comparable experiences. Yet there are some; being in psychological or spiritual denial sharing some similarity and then awakening from it.

Often it seems as if that whole period of my life did not exist. Other times it seems as if the mainstream world had not existed during that time. Yet both most certainly did, as did I. I am still trying to piece it all together with the whole of my life and who and what I am. For myself this is an incredibly challenging endeavor. To describe it to others and bridge the gap expands the difficulty many times over.

I did not drop off the face of the earth during this time period as some people appear to believe. And, when I returned it was with Rip Van Winkle that I could most identify. I had no idea how to relate to the world I had left behind. Especially as I left before "911" and returned after. Our world was a dramatically changed one;  a change I seemed to observe almost as an alien from another planet. I was of this world but had, in many ways, notably not been in it.

Today, seven years after my return to the seeing world, it is still difficult to translate into words where I went and what I saw while there. In many ways, it is even more complex to explain the oblique perspective I hold on what I saw around me as I made my re-entry.

On occasion people ask what it was like for me to be blind. I am hard pressed to explain while the interviewer is challenged to understand what I say. A quote from Helen Keller, who was both blind and unable to hear, sometimes offers a starting point for discussion (thank goodness I was only blind).

"The spiritual world offers no difficulty to one who is deaf and blind. Nearly everything in the natural world is as vague, as remote from my senses, as spiritual things seem to the minds of most people."  Helen Keller

Particularly, since "911" people seem more available than before to acknowledge a spiritual perspective as having relevance for day-to-day living. Did "911" make spirituality more of a day-to-day imperative?

It seems as if it did have that effect. Perhaps, then, that is the place where we will all be better able to relate to one another someday; the place where the spiritual meets the physical. For me, that would bring such a welcome coming together.

A critical part of my recovering from being blind was that I was able to start writing again. I wanted to write, again, with the hopes of publishing, almost more than anything else when I was blind. In fact, initially, I thought that would be it! Write it and heal it. All done! I would write about my experience of being blind as a way to recover from the ordeal. But I was wrong. It would not be that easy or simple.

Over the next few years, I discovered I had seriously minimized the impact of vision loss and the inordinate adjustments that would be required of me to recover from it. So today that story in progress, entitled "To See Or Not To See And The Art Of Transcendent Living: A True Story About Clarity," is still awaiting completion and publication, like the three books I wrote for Random House. The process in motion, the product yet to be revealed.

Today -- as I contemplate taking off one more of those 1,000 masks I wear, I offer a bit of my story about my being -- and -- recovering from being blind, through a brief online excerpt from my work in progress.

Visit the linked connection on  "To See Or Not To See and The Art Of Transcendent Living: A True Story About Clarity" with Marge Hulburt and Shaun N. Mahshie. (FYI -- The eye disease that resulted in my blindness is keratoconus.)  More to come.

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