Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

He points to those with hidden symptoms in a chapter reflecting on the deaths of Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade and Alan Krueger. There is mental and physical agony in this life, and Bruni does not judge anyone’s decisions; rather, he grieves the losses and appreciates the grace. There is virtue in stoicism, but there is also danger in what strong people can hide. His own situation has made him even more keen to understand the other whose public face contradicts a private suffering. He proposes that each person should have a sandwich board listing her pain and how she adapts: “Imagine that our hardships, our hurdles, our demons, our pain were spelled out for everyone around us to see.” Bruni’s sandwich board would read: “Eyesight compromised, could go blind.”

You ask, why announce your troubles? Doesn’t everyone have something? “Well, yes. Tell us anyway,” I think Bruni would reply. Maybe if we knew, we might slow down, turn and fumble toward each other. Perhaps, then I could say that you’re not alone, and I’m rooting for you, because I am.

— Min Jin Lee, in her book review  of Frank Bruni’s “The Beauty of Dusk: On Vision Lost and Found” titled “Eyesight Compromised. Could Go Blind.” (NY Times Book Review, Feb 28, 2022). Bruni had a rare stroke several years ago which damaged his optic nerve and severely impaired his eyesight. Read more here.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

But these readers see another, different kind of vulnerability. Oprah Winfrey does, too, as I learned this week. On her Oprah Daily website, she has begun doing a series of “The Life You Want” classes, and she invited me to join her for one on Tuesday night to discuss my new book, “The Beauty of Dusk.” (The Times ran this excerpt last week.)

I’ll admit to being wowed simply that an advance copy had found its way into her hands, let alone that she’d read and wanted to talk about it. She specifically wanted to discuss its portrait of vulnerability and my description of my compromised and imperiled eyesight not as a diminution but as an education. She wanted to ponder vulnerability as a means of connection, a bridge.

And that is, indeed, how I tend and try to see it. To be vulnerable is to be more alert and ideally more sensitive to what’s going on around you. To be vulnerable is to let others in, and there’s promise as well as peril in that. To admit to vulnerability is to own up to being human. You show me someone who’s alive; I’ll show you someone who’s vulnerable.

There are days, sure, when my vulnerability feels like powerlessness and I tremble inside. There are quite a number of them, and that’s not about my eyesight but about a thousand other things — about the evanescence of pleasures that I so wish I could hold on to, about the inconstancy of people whom I’d prefer to depend on, about my own failure to keep some of the promises that I’ve explicitly or implicitly made, about the limits of my energy, which once seemed boundless.

I’m vulnerable to great disappointment. But that goes hand in hand with being open to great joy.

— Frank Bruni, from “Putin Is Teaching Us a Brutal Lesson About History” (NY Times, February 24, 2022).  Bruni had a rare stroke several years ago which damaged his optic nerve and severely impaired his eyesight. Read more here.

Flying over I-40 N. With Roy Orbison.

I’m in the same seat, 24E Exit.
On the same plane, an Airbus A321.
On the same airline.
On the same flight.
Returning home from same city, AA1263 DFW to LGA.

To my left, across the aisle, and up one row, is same lavatory.

And here they come.

Wife, I’m guessing, is guiding him. They are 10 rows up, and shuffling down the aisle. He’s tall, 6’4″ est.  Middle aged, gray hair. Collared short sleeved shirt. Khaki pants.

Thick, black framed Roy Orbison glasses.

Blind.

The two of them make their way down the aisle. I set my iPad down to watch. She’s smiling. He’s grinning. Not a care in the world these two. And, You? A billion interconnected miracles happening every second for you to be you, and for you to see this moment. 

My index finger reaches for the volume button on my iPad to turn off the device. You can see the button. You can see the text on the screen. You can see your bag under the seat. You can see the zipper on the bag as you open your bag. You can see the compartment where you wish to set it in. You can see the two of them approaching. [Read more…]

Unglove Yourself. Can you feel this?

Anne Bancroft at a school for the deaf and blind in Spring Valley, NY, preparing for her role in The Miracle Worker photographed by Nina Leen (1959)


Notes:

  • Photo Source: Annebancrofts
  • Post Title Inspired by: It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable. ― Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

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

edward-hoagland

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)


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly.

bird-flock-see-feel

A light so continuous and so intense was so far beyond my comprehension that sometimes I doubted it. Suppose it was not real, that I had only imagined it. Perhaps it would be enough to imagine the opposite, or just something different, to make it go away. So I thought of testing it out and even of resisting it. At night in bed, when I was all by myself, I shut my eyes.

I lowered my eyelids as I might have done when they covered my physical eyes. I told myself that behind these curtains I would no longer see light. But light was still there, and more serene than ever, looking like a lake at evening when the wind has dropped. Then I gathered up all my energy and willpower and tried to stop the flow of light, as I might have tried to stop breathing. What happened was a disturbance, something like a whirlpool. But the whirlpool was still flooded with light. At all events I couldn’t keep this up very long, perhaps only for two or three seconds. When this was going on I felt a sort of anguish, as though I were doing something forbidden, something against life. It was exactly as if I needed light to live —needed it as much as air. There was no way out of it. I was the prisoner of light. I was condemned to see.

― Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light: Autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, Blind Hero of the French Revolution


Notes:

  • Photo: Татьяна Кошутина (via Hidden Sanctuary)
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Related posts for Jacques Lusseyran
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

The blind man himself saw, and the sighted one close behind him knew it

sky-cloud-summer-memory

In order to guide me better, Jean had invented a code. The pressure of his hand on my right shoulder meant: “Slope on the right. Shift the weight of your body to the left,” and vice versa. Pressure in the middle of my back said: “No danger in a straight line in front of you. We can walk faster.” Pressure on my back but on the left side was a warning: “Slow up! Right turn ahead.” And when the weight of his hand became heavier, it was because the turn ahead was a hairpin bend…

Jean and I ran into a hard fact — the fact that limits do not exist. If there are any, they are never the ones they taught us. People around us seemed satisfied when they said that a lame man walks with a limp, that a blind man does not see, that a child is not old enough to understand, that life ends with death. For the two of us, in our summer of green fields, twilight and dawn continually revolving, none of these statements stood its ground. We had friendship on our side. We had ignorance and bliss, and we looked at everything through these channels. They taught us all we knew. The blind man himself saw, and the sighted one close behind him knew it. Life was good, very good.

~ Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II


Notes:

 

It entered into me, became part of me. I was eating sun.

dervish-light-sun-turkey

This light was not like the flow of water, but something more fleeting and numberless, for its source was everywhere. I liked seeing that the light came from nowhere in particular, but was an element just like air. We never ask ourselves where air comes from, for it is there and we are alive. With the sun it is the same thing. There was no use my seeing the sun high up in the sky in its place in space at noon, since I was always searching for it elsewhere. I looked for it in the flickering of its beams, in the echo which, as a rule, we attribute only to sound, but which belongs to light in the same measure. Radiance multiplied, reflected itself from one window to the next, from a fragment of wall to cloud above. It entered into me, became part of me. I was eating sun.

~ Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II


Notes: A Turkish Dervish dances through afternoon light pouring in from the roof. Photograph by Hasan Açan (via Hidden Sanctuary)

The Moment

Perspective (noun): An Anvil Dropped On Your Head.

painting,art,

It was 11:30 am this morning.
A bruising day and still on the wrong side of noon.
A meeting. A call. Another call. Another Call. A meeting. Another meeting.
And triple tasking, banging out emails during calls and reorganizing tomorrow’s calendar.
Then, a break in the storm.
Get off your a**.  Now!  Take a walk. Sitting is killing you. And if not that, the urine backup may get you first.

I grab my smartphone and scan the subject headings of my personal emails.
Half way down my in-box, my eye catches text in the subject line: “live and learn suggestion.
All in lower case.
The antennae clicks up a notch.  High probability of spam soliciting SEO help or telling me my blog sucks and I need professional help.

My thumb slides up to the DELETE key. [Read more…]

Color


I was watching this video (3:15 am, in the dark) and seeing florescent orange in my peripheral vision from the digital clock on the dresser – and feeling gratitude wash over me.  I marvel at what technology is doing for people like Neil Harbisson (and so happy that I can see more than gray-scale.) Bottom line: Moved.

“The life of Neil Harbisson is like something out of a sci-fi novel. Neil was born with achromatopsia, a rare condition that leaves 1 in 30,000 people completely colorblind. But Neil isn’t colorblind, far from it. After convincing his doctors to implant an antenna onto him, Neil now possesses a new sense – the ability to hear colors. Neil takes you through a day in his life and you into an entirely new world.”


Source: Sho & Tell

SMWI*: Blind Courage (And a whole lot of faith)


A remarkable true story of a blind hiker, Bill Irwin, and his 2100 mile journey of faith along the Appalachian Trail with his Seeing Eye dog Orient.

How do you know which way to go?
I don’t. I just follow him.
How does he know?
God leads the Dog. Dog leads me.


SMWI* = Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration

Sunday Morning: “Oh, well. At least I’m here.”


Hang in there until the finish…

 

Received it with a kind of wonder, and kept it on our lips through the afternoon

woman-face-eye-black-and-white

Some of us were arriving, hungry
impatient, while others had eaten
and were leaving, bidding goodbye
to our friends, and among us
stood a pretty woman, blind,
her perfect fingers interwoven
about the top of her cane,
and she was bending forward,
open eyed, to find the knotted lips
of a man whose disfigured face
had been assembled out of scars
and who was leaving, hurrying off,
and though their kiss was brief
and askew and awkwardly pursed,
we all received it with a kind of
wonder, and kept it on our lips
through the afternoon.

~ Ted Kooser, “At Arby’s, At Noon“. Splitting an Order (Cooper Canyon Press, 2014)


Mr. Awesomeness aka Ted Kooser.  In less than 100 words, he puts you at the scene at Arby’s and makes you feel. 


Image Source: TheSensualStarfish

“Which do you pick?”

green-paint-brush-color

And so I ask Helen my favorite question: “If you could have one sense back, which would it be?” Her fingers go round and round in circles, and I can feel the girl actually thinking in my palm.

“Which do you pick?” she asks.

Though I have been deprived of all senses save touch since the age of two, while she is only deaf and blind, for me the choice is simple. “Sight,” I tell her, all the glorious colors God has painted on lands and faces. Green is the color I remember with the most pleasure: green from the grass outside our house in New Hampshire. Blue still spills from that square of sky visible over the bed where I lay ill for almost a year, and Mama says my eyes were bright blue before they shrunk behind my lids. Red I have a strong and disagreeable sense of, from when they bled me with leeches. And black, black I know the longest and best because it is my constant companion. These are the only colors I can recall or imagine with any clarity.

~ Kimberly Elkins, What Is Visible, A Novel


This is an excerpt is from a novel about Laura Bridgman (1829-1889). Laura Bridgman’s family was struck with scarlet fever when Laura was two years old. The illness killed her two older sisters and left her deaf, blind, and without a sense of smell or taste. She is known as the first deaf-blind American to gain a significant education in the English language, fifty years before the more famous Helen Keller.


Photography: Media.photobucket via Your Eyes Blaze Out

Orlando to the rescue

blind man subway fall-2129555726_v2.photoblog600

“Cecil Williams, 60, a blind man, was heading to the dentist during morning rush hour on Tuesday. His 11-year black lab guide dog named Orlando, was trained to keep him from going over the edge. Witnesses said the dog was barking frantically as his owner was losing consciousness.  He tried to stop Williams from falling, but they both fell to the tracks when Williams fainted. “He tried to hold me up,” Williams said.

Orlando then lay on top of his owner cowering as the subway rumbled over top of them. The train’s motorman slowed the subway cars while witnesses called for help. Williams and Orlando were struck, but not badly hurt. “The dog saved my life,” Williams said, his voice breaking at times. He also was astonished by the help from emergency crews and bystanders on the platform. As Williams regained consciousness, he heard someone telling him to be still. Emergency workers put him on a stretcher and pulled him from the subway, and made sure the dog was not badly injured.

Orlando, who Williams described as serious but laid-back, was at the hospital making new friends. He will be rewarded with some type of special treat, Williams said, along with plenty of affection and scratches behind the ears.

The lab will be 11 on Jan. 5, and will be retiring soon, Williams said. His health insurance will not cover the cost of a non-working dog, so he will be looking for a good home for him. If he had the money, Williams said, “I would definitely keep him.””

Watch the 30 second NBC News Video Clip here. Inspiring…


Source: NBC News
Related Post: Guess who graduated? With a fancy badge and diploma too…


T.G.I.F.: Parallel Parking Gone Wrong


  • Date: June 12, 2013
  • Location: San Rafael, California
  • Outcome: No one hurt.
  • Situation: 93-year old woman is attempting to parallel park.
  • Hero: 18-month old seeing eye guide dog (a Lab) who spots the parallel parker. (Watch dog sense incoming disaster.)
  • Summary: WOW! (Watched this 6x)

Source: Thank you Eric

Tommy Carroll. Where the Heart Is.

This Saturday Morning Work-out inspiration clip is inspiring, has beautiful cinematography and is paired with wonderful music (“Where the Heart Is” by Marijn van der Meer).  Tommy Carroll, who has been blind since the age of two (cancer of the retinas was diagnosed late), has been skating since the age of 10.  This young man has a graceful, peaceful way about him…and is wise beyond his years.

Where the Heart is?  Tommy Carroll.

BRAVE from EyEFORcE on Vimeo.


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