by Dan Spoone
It’s nice to know that our president’s messages are finding a listening audience. Wanda Williford, New Jersey’s affiliate president, recently wrote me expressing her enjoyment on my article, “Things That Annoy Me About My Sighted Neighbors.” I found it comforting to know that I brought a smile and some laughter to our members. Wanda was inspired to write her own article entitled, “Top 10 Things I Love About Living Blind.” It made me chuckle at a difficult time. So, I’m sharing it with you this month. Please reach out to Wanda and me and share your favorite advantages of being blind. Thanks for being so positive, Wanda!
Top Ten Things I Love About Living Blind
by Wanda Williford
There is no denying that living as a blind person comes with numerous inherent challenges. The pros and cons of navigating everyday tasks could fill volumes. Full disclosure, I was inspired to examine this topic by ACB president Dan Spoone’s November 2021 message, published in “The ACB Braille Forum.” He penned a top 10 list of things he finds annoying, living with blindness. His observations were so spot on, I found myself nodding in agreement and laughing out loud at the list. I thought certain adventures were unique to my sometimes-madcap life. Dan’s “Top Ten” confirmed a universal truth. We are all more alike than we are different. What I also know for sure, us blind folks definitely lead interesting lives. I acknowledge there are many annoyances that come with being blind. However, there are some aspects I’ve discovered over the years that I quite like. I challenge you to think about the positives of living with blindness or low vision. Here is my “Top Ten” list of things I love about being blind.
1. Blind Family: When I joined NJCB, I found my tribe. Prior to 2018, I did not know any other blind people. I had no idea what I was missing. Befriending other people who walk a similar journey as mine has been life-affirming. The compassion, camaraderie and love we share makes us forever family.
2. No Physical Snap Judgments: Since I can no longer make out faces, I can’t subconsciously dismiss a person because of some unappealing characteristic like a missing tooth or an unusual haircut. Conversely, I am not dazzled by pearly veneers, or a pair of hand-tooled Italian loafers. My relationships are richer because I get to know people without physical distractions.
3. Large Patience Muscles: I make conversations with strangers in the long line at Target. I listen to audio books when the doctor’s visit runs long. I do not experience passenger “road rage” when traffic comes to a grinding halt on I-95. Years ago, this level of calm was not the norm for me. I now try to make the best of sometimes being at the mercy of others’ schedules. My perspective has changed, and I’ve developed patience muscles Arnold Schwarzenegger would envy.
4. Skipping Lines: Several years ago, I took a cruise with family. Disembarking, the customs line snaked on for an hour wait. The customs agent spotted my cane, pulled our group out of line and processed us in 5 minutes flat. My 10-year-old nephew commented on the way home in the car, “Aunt Wanda, I’m so happy you have that cane, otherwise, we would still be in that ridiculously long line.” Admittedly, I sometimes feel a little guilty in these situations, but I quickly get over it.
5. Kind Strangers: I try to live as independently as possible. However, we all need help occasionally. I have been out and about, gotten turned around and ended up in the automotive aisle of Target. I call out and a stranger will assist and lead me to the shoe aisle, where I was originally headed. I am always grateful and amazed at the willingness of perfect strangers to lend a helping hand.
6. BARD: Recently, I was listening to an NPR book review. They recommended what the reviewer stated was the best memoir written in the past 20 years. I immediately grabbed my phone and downloaded it to my BARD mobile app within minutes. I’ve managed to read 36 books in 2021. Having free access to books and magazines is a game changer.
7. Reduced NJT Fare: It’s not difficult talking my friends into taking the train into New York City, because my companion travels free and my fare is half price. Cha-ching!
8. Touchy Feely Me: I love the tactile design and feel of elements in my living and bedroom, the ultra-soft velvet loveseat, oversized down-filled pillows with silk fringe, and the feel of my bare feet on the sumptuous wool rug. My hands are in constant sensory nirvana.
9. Low Electric Bills: I do not use lots of lighting. Most times I have to remember to turn on lights when guests visit. Frequently, I will ask a friend to read a document. They reply, “Sure! Could you turn on a lamp? It’s too dark. I can’t see it.” We both chuckle at the irony.
10. Never the Designated Driver: Don’t get me wrong, I miss being able to hop in my car and drive to 7-Eleven for a Slurpee. However, knowing I can have a cocktail at any occasion, without fear of endangering anyone’s life, including my own, is liberating. Cheers!