It’s beyond belief to step outside and see so little, just a milky haze


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. […]

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 moments. 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, excerpts from Feeling My Way Into Blindness (NY Times, 11/20/2016)



  1. Our sight is a gift. It’s a massive change to make peace with.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are so many gorgeous lines and phrases – one can see all that he now cannot. A reminder – cherish all you have, all the time. Painfully beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A beautiful reminder of a painful reality. It reminds me to stop complaining and look around at all the beauty I am fortunate to see each day. Thank you for sharing your wise and powerful stark reminder of how lucky I am.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. gratitude for what we have and what we don’t

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, how very much we take for granted. This is a painfully beautiful reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It would be very frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When I clicked on the full article I realized it was too long to read on my phone. My right eye has been bothering me for two weeks and I was on my way out to see the doctor about that.

    Read it while on the elliptical machine, that took about 20 minutes.
    Then decided to finish the remaining 40 minutes with my eyes closed.
    How blind we are!

    Yes, beautifully written and need to read it again, and again. Reminds me of a review I saw of Toni Morrison’s God Bless the Child,

    “like Ms. Morrison’s previous novels, is a book to be read twice at a minimum — the first time for the story, and the second time to savor the language, the gems of phrasing and the uncomfortable revelations about the human capacity both to love and destroy.” –Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    (Beauty of language + Revelations)

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A shift back into reality. Gratitude every day.


  9. I worry about blindness…in the future of my young son, with his being diabetic his whole life. I read a story in which a diabetic described what it was like to go blind. He described it as a red curtain because it is the tiny veins in the eyes which are broken as a result of diabetes. It would be so difficult to be blind…and I worry. And yes, grateful for each day that we are able to see this beautiful world.


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