Blind Blessings

No, when I first lost my sight, I didn’t consider my new condition to be a blessing. Rather, I fell into a deep depression, which I only escaped with the aid of loving family and friends. I needed help and was quite fortunate to eventually connect with the resources that enabled me to become functional again and resume my writing path.

If I may offer some advice, should you find yourself suddenly without sight or visually impaired, ask for help. If you get suicidal, call a suicide hotline. Losing one’s sight is tragic and traumatic, and if you find yourself or someone you care for in this situation, quickly reach out for assistance.

Ironically, I could not have picked a better time to go blind. We are in the midst of the “Golden Age” of assistive technology. One month after I was introduced to computer screen readers, I was communicating with email, researching on the internet, and writing again. Given the dark times I’d ben through, this assistive technology transformation was a miracle.

In the United States, there are many wonderful programs assisting the blind and visually impaired. Here are a few that have helped me-

Blind Services, California Department of Social Services. This program provided evaluation and training, including how to use assistive computer technologies. I think most states have similar programs. They even paid for my new computer and sent a blind guy to my home to train me in how to use it.

http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/PG83.htm

Lions’ Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This program teaches basic skills required for blind and visually impaired persons to function in daily life.

http://www.lbcenter.org/

Lighthouse for the Blind, San Francisco. This is another great resource that provides access and training for assistive technologies. Similar programs are offered in many other cities.

http://lighthouse-sf.org/about/contact-us/

Here’s my plug for Apple.

A screen reader application provides a voice that reads what is on a computer or cell phone screen. Although Windows computers offer various screen reader applications, Apple provides VoiceOver, its screen reader application, as a basic part of its operating system. This is great because whatever Apple device I buy includes VoiceOver, no need to add any other screen reader. An extra bonus, is that Apple has Siri, a voice activated program that allows me, for instance, to create and send an email with voice commands. My fingers never have to type a thing.

No,VoiceOver is not a perfect system, but it works well most of the time. To their credit, Apple keeps improving VoiceOver and voice activated functionality. With VoiceOver you can pick language and even voice character types, from staid English Alex to almost sexy Swedish Sonya.

http://www.apple.com/accessibility/osx/voiceover/

One more thing, something that has turned out to be a real blessing for the writer I’m working to be. The U.S. National Library Service has a program called B.A.R.D., which means Blind and Audio Reader Download. This is a fantastic and free new application for smart phones. With this app I can download thousands of audio books in the NLS system. This has become my secret writer’s sanctuary, a place I can go and listen to the great writing works. Currently, I’m listening my way through the Pulitzer Prize winning books of the last 100 years.

You need to first register with your state blind services agency to gain access to NLS and B.A.R.D.. Once you do, a whole new world is yours to explore.

https://nlsbard.loc.gov/login//NLS

Okay, by now you’ve realized that I found my way out of depression’s grip with a lot of help, and, yes, I’ve even found that blindness has been a blessing to me.

How?

First, losing my sight has forced me to be more humble. I can’t get through a day without asking for help. For a guy who was extremely self-reliant, this was a difficult change to make. However, I now recognize that there is a time to love and a time to let love in.

Perhaps my biggest blessing from blindness is that I’ve been forced to learn how to listen, to be acutely aware of the sounds around me and the feelings behind the words I hear. It has been said that the first rule of love is to listen. Blindness has given me a new path to love bigger.

And, I’m back to writing again. Here are some popular posts you might enjoy-

Gee, I Haven’t Been Suicidal for Months
Blind, But Now I Hear
Blind Man’s Bluff
Why I Like Being Blind

Again, if you or a someone close to you is dealing with the challenges of blindness or visual impairment, reach out for help. If I can be of any assistance, please contact me at tiostib@gmail.com.

There is Hope! Never give up!

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David Bowie And Thoughts On Life

a beautiful tribute to a creative genius and the creative process from Peter Wells, himself a marvelous creative talent.

countingducks

As we all know, unless we are hiding in a cave somewhere pretending to be a pot of jam, David Bowie died recently. He was not, to be honest, my favourite musician of all time but I love some of his music and he was an undeniably talented man who interacted with the world around him almost until his last breath: something I admire deeply. He reminds me of the urgent, telling words of Dylan Thomas,

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

On many levels,  Bowie was a deeply private and unknowable character and his cremation pretty much took place in secret, and in as unmarked a manner as he could manage, but his desire to understand, create and communicate through music was undimmed almost until his last breath. He reminded…

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Life Is Like A Broken Egg

Yesterday I dropped an egg. Actually, I didn’t drop it, I surmise it rolled unseen off the counter. I heard a noise near the floor. In a microsecond, my brain flashed through the possible causes of such a noise. At about the same time, my brain reached another conclusion. The toes on my right foot were also sending signals to my sensory center. Something gooey was down there.

A broken egg!

As I groped around cleaning the shattered shell from the floor and then its contents from my foot, I pondered the symbolic relevance of this event in my life.

Yes, I tend to get lost in my own world at times.

Perhaps, I wondered, my life is like a broken egg. Here I am, marching along unseen by most of the world and then, crash! I splat into eternity, possibly making a mess for someone else to clean up as I exit.

That’s one possibility.

My mind drifted off in other directions. I remembered a structures class where we dropped eggs in specially designed containers from a third story balcony. The object, of course, was to preserve the integrity of the egg. The challenge was to do this with as little material as possible. It’s no problem to put an egg in a big box of bubble wrap and drop it unfazed onto the floor below. The trick is to drop the egg, mostly naked, with the same result. Similarly in life, I thought, there’d been times I’d insulated myself with such things as work and selfish interest so that the rest of the world couldn’t touch me, and I couldn’t touch the people who cared about me because I was too closed off from them.

There have been naked opposite times when I was raw and open, times when I felt that life had run me over and left me for roadkill. Going bankrupt and watching friends die come to mind.

My lesson from these experiences: Sometimes it’s good to overprotect. Sometimes it’s good to hurt. The pain reminds me of happier times.

All this you may say, from simply having an egg hit the floor? Yes, and there’s more.

What if I’m like an egg? A hard, durable shell on the outside and a soft sticky mess inside. My outside, that part of me I show the world, is a lot like the shell of an egg. It’s quite resistant to general pressures, quite strong when grasped firmly. But, the shell has its weak points. It doesn’t do well with pressure applied to a single point. Yes, I have my buttons. I hate cleaning up other people’s messes, such as wiping up their broken eggs. I have no tolerance for fools, which is why politics disgusts me. The egg shell is also brittle. It doesn’t do well when landing on sharp objects. I explode when subject to sharp noises, and am even more violent when subject to the sound of barking chihuahuas.

All this from a broken egg.

My last thoughts on this surprisingly deep self-dialog. How do you crack an egg? I use two hands. Even so, I often make a mess of this simple action, sometimes striking a nearby surface so hard that the shell cracks open and leaves a trail of egg goo from there to the frying pan. (This is a clue to what I usually do with eggs, hinting at my limited cooking repertoire). Sometimes, when my mind is somewhere else such as now, I fail to hit the egg hard enough,it doesn’t crack, waking me from my reverie to initiate another strike on the shell. This usually results in the previously mentioned egg goo trail.

What does this say about my life? I tend to be overly cautious and conservative. Do I lack faith in my creative abilities to expand my egg cuisine? Maybe I’m just lazy.

One of my goals for the New Year is to learn how to crack an egg with one hand. I think this may take quite a few eggs. I’ve heard that gin fizzes are a good use for egg whites and an easy way to forget about life’s deeper concerns.

Like how my life is like a broken egg.

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First published in January, 2014, but since I haven’t mastered the one handed egg crack yet, I decided to publish this again to remind myself of goals I’ve yet to attain.

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Growing Up or Why I Became a Writer

“Why do I need to grow up?” asked my nephew, in one of those rare moments when youth values age.

“Why do you ask?” I replied.

“Because adults are always telling me I need to grow up,” he answered earnestly.

Feeling his inquisitive eyes staring at me, I knew a simple answer would not suffice, especially since I’ve struggled with the same question for over fifty years.

I’ve tried to grow up, built boats and houses played architect,, took my shot at saving the world as a social worker, never quite made enough money as an entrepreneur, collected a surprising array of failed relationships but did manage to win a gold medal in speed diapering. I’ve learned I’m an inept ballroom dancer, that I like to eat good cooking but don’t have the patience to create it,that the wonders of Nature are an infinite source of inspiration, that death happens, and that the true riches of my life are the friends I’ve made and worked to keep along the way.

Although I treasure time with my family and friends, I’m quite introspective and often introverted. To borrow a line from Steve McQueen, “I’d rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.: I must admit that after all the other “adult” careers I’ve tried, writing seems to suit me best. Writing is also a better fit for a blind guy than being a fly fishing guide. I’m not good at it yet, but I believe that by working at telling stories with solutions, sharing ideas that build a better world, I’ll perhaps make a positive difference with the life I’m blessed to live.

Writing is also wonderful as it gives me an acceptable adult excuse not to grow up. What else could I do where I can hang out in my imagination all day and people will just nod almost approvingly, and mutter, “don’t mind him, he’s a writer.”

“Tio!”

The voice snapped my attention back to the young boy waiting for the definitive answer to why he should grow up. There was a long pause.

“Growing up is not all it’s made out to be,” I finally replied, “I suggest you take as long as possible before getting seriously involved with adulthood.”

“I like it!” he said laughing and walked away.

My wife tells me I should be careful of what I say to children, they might believe me. She also pushes us to get out and enjoy life, to travel, go adventuring, and drink more wine with friends.

My wife is very smart and fun to live with, My kind of adult.

Be curious!

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You might also enjoy: Why I Write Poetry, The Story

Our Deepest Fear

As the New Year approaches, I look again at what keeps me from fully living my dreams. This passage from Marianne Williamson’s “Return to Love” best describes my daily challenge[

“My deepest fear is not that I am inadequate. My deepest fear is that I am powerful beyond measure.

It is my light, not my darkness, that most frightens me.

I ask myself, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who am I not to be? I am a child of God.

My playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people won’t feel insecure around me.

I am born to manifest God’s glory within me. It’s not just in some of us: it’s in everyone. And, as I let my own light shine, I unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As I am liberated from my own fear my presence automatically liberates others.”

-Marianne Williamson

Thank you for following your dreams and, in so doing, making the world better for all beings. Best wishes for a joyous and fulfilling New Year!

Hugs!

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