Hey Steph, I wish you were here too. Then I could meet you! That would be fun!
Hey no fair, I wanna come too! :-)
Let's all go! It would be a fun meet-up!
Twould indeed. In my mind our travel plans are all set. But if I could will the world to be the way I imagine it to be, the world would be much different!
Hollywoods a great addition to our list of the mind-controling elite.
I'm already here. When are you guys showing up?
I would say that my hearing is not better than others but that my Listening skills are better than most. Throughout my life I’ve been told I’m a very good listener. I think that stems from the fact that listening has become my primary sense. My other non-visual senses are similarly heightened but not to the extent that my listening skills have been. When I’m walking around sometimes I can figure out where I am by the smells coming out of the stores I’m passing.
As for my childhood, I would say that it was comprised of two very different pieces. When I was very young I was really outgoing and active. I did most of the things the other kids did. I rode a bike. I played basketball, kickball and touch football; in fact, I used the basketball hoop in our backyard much more than either of my brothers. I use to love pretending I was playing for the Boston Celtics. I got really good at chasing down the ball after I took a shot and getting back to the court to shoot again.
During the summers I would water ski, windsurf and swim. When I started going to camps for kids with visual impairments I realized how different my childhood was. While many of the other kids were being exposed to sports for the first time I was ready to play. I guess that’s what led me to work at a different camp for the visually impaired last summer.
When I got to high school, though, things changed. I became much more aware of the differences caused by my blindness and the activities the other kids really got into: going to the mall; watching movies; buying and wearing new clothes; and talking about pretty girls didn’t mean that much to me. Also, I think the other kids started to look at accommodating my blindness as cramping their style. Some kids didn’t want me to walk holding their elbow because they didn’t want anyone to think they were gay. Others didn’t want to pick me up at home so we could go out. Others thought having me around would slow them down. All of that surprised me because I never before considered myself slow or in the way. I guess when they started driving and I never did that made a big difference. I was too proud to beg them to hang out with me and too naive to realize what was happening. So, I turned inward for solace.
That time period’s what made me an introvert and taught me the value of reflection. I truly believe that had I been sighted I’d be a very different person than I am today. I believe that being blind and eventually being willing to consider and accept the ways that affected my life made me a more sensitive, better person. I think my natural tendency is to ask questions and try and answer them but being blind and facing discrimination helped expand the areas where I was willing to look for questions and answers.
I hope this makes some sense and that it wasn’t too long.
Jonathan, I like reading your narratives; you compose clearly and in almost a visually evocative manner. Being "different" because of blindness reflects badly on willingness of others to "walk in your shoes" with compassion. Your clear understanding of your introversion and reflective nature speak well of your character, and finding ways to develop your coping strategies. The fact that you played ball, rode bikes, and participated in other active sports presents challenges to sighted little boys and imagining you taking off on a spin, or playing basket ball amazes me.
Who were the greatest influences in your life for positive attitudes and assistance in in trying such risky things?
I believe children faced with challenges of any kind need people to encourage and inspire them, even as they observe carefully to see that children are safe. Out-of-control kids I worked with had a far better chance in life if they had a "cookie person", someone who cared about them and took an interest in them.
Thank you, Jonathan, for your inspiring story and you present food for thought for those who have challenges of their own, regardless of what they might be. You also bring to attention the need of others to participate with trying new and different things. Peer support, of course, is important, and always adult support helps reduce the negative impacts of being different.
And when we come right down to the basics, you reveal that we are all in need of each other.
Oh I really agree with you Joan; that others aren't compassionate and don't feel empathy.
Jonathan does inspire! It true Joan that we all need each other. And that's why this site is so important for us.