On November 11th, I celebrate 10 years living with a visual impairment. To honor this moment, I will post several entries over the next couple of days. To start this off, here are ten things that I have fully embraced thanks to going blind.
10. Meeting New People
Being blind has introduced an array of new people in my life. These range from long term friends to colleagues to all those who I am lucky to share a moment with.
9. The Accessible World
I really wished that Text to Speech entered into my life sooner, along with the iPhone and tablets. My productivity dramatically increased exponentially, while reading has never been more enjoyable.
8. Disability Rights and Independent Living
I never understood what these movements and lifestyles meant. Living as a disabled person enabled me to appreciate and enable others to overcome barriers associated with an un-inclusive society.
7. Public Speaking and Presenting
Like many, public speaking scared me. However, this changes when you actually have something meaningful to say. We have the right to the freedom of speech, but you must earn the right to be heard.
6. Charting a New Life
Path The military provides a fairly easy to negotiate career path thanks to regulations. Blindness provided a chance to see beyond this myopic view of life, and venture into the greater unknown.
5. Identity of Disability Pride
Accepting blindness as a part of me did not happen overnight, but rather over years. Once I realized that being blind or disabled is natural and should be displayed opened the door for me to truly recover from my injuries.
4. Learning to Request and Accept Assistance
Being an Army Officer to me meant that I had to figure things out on my own, while never showing weakness. Being blind automatically allows most of society to view me as being vulnerable. In the middle of these two extremes resides a happy medium where I can navigate between offers for guidance or storm my way through a situation. Understand that being able to choose when to accept aid is the best example of self-determination.
This definition has many aspects. In the simplest form, my ability to communicate in a manner that reaches beyond the surface and with ones internal energies is far easier. On the other hand, my wife and I have experienced our most stable and satisfying emotional and physical (aka sexual) life thus far. This all stems from learning how to effectively communicate needs, wants, and desires a nonjudgmental and open manner.
2. Growing the Family
This includes the birth of my daughter to my mentors. Through all of these individuals, I have learned so much more about how to live a richer and real life.
This might seem cliche, but it is very true. To explain this the best, check out Tim McGraw’s, “Live Like You Were Dying.”