What would I do if I was blind? How would I live? Who would I be? I have thought about losing one of my senses many times before, and I have even had discussions about it. But this time was different because I have become so much more passionate about a career in sustainable transportation where vision will be imperative. On top of that I am returning to my roots of hiking, camping, and other outdoor recreation. I saw a blind man at Shady Grove a few weeks ago, and last night I couldn’t sleep for imagining what my life would be like if that was me.
Sight has always been the sense I have cherished most. Without taste food would be bland, but at least I could eat healthier. Smell too would dampen the world, removing the aromas that spark memories. Yet without either of these I could continue to live a fairly normal life. Deafness would be very hard because I love music and the soft, reassuring voice of a loved one goes a long way in improving any situation. Touch…I struggle to even imagine what it would be like to live without physical feeling. A hug or even a comforting pat on the back can change my day. But sight…ironically, I can see what my life would be like if I could not see.
No more biking. I probably won’t be doing a lot of hiking or camping either, not to mention anything like rock climbing or skiing. Many more exotic things like white water rafting and hang gliding might need to be taken off my bucket list. There are a lot of physical things I believe would become difficult if not impossible, but what about my interaction with people? I read people well, it is something I have always been good at. I can often sense another’s discomfort or anger well before they voice it, something that has always helped me facilitate conversations and has been invaluable while working in Residence Life.
I can imagine it: career stunted, adventures limited, and social skills reduced. I know many people live quite happily with blindness. I also know that sometimes people actually become happier when they lose something that is dear to them. But knowledge does not always reduce fear, and I know that if I lost my vision I would be terrified. I imagine that I would feel only a fraction of myself. I imagine I that I would lose my strong sense of independence and become a burden on my friends and family. And I imagine that I would withdraw from society and spiral into depression. I imagine I would never be the same.
Would I be mostly confined to my house? Would I need assistance to do simple things like complete forms and go shopping? And who would assist me? What about love…would it ever be the same? What kind of challenge would blindness add to a relationship? I cannot begin to fathom what blindness would mean in my own life, let alone the lives of others. I have never considered this before but now I want to become involved. What better way is there to understand blindness than to work with the blind? Volunteering can be as much about helping the volunteer as about helping others and I think working with the blind could be a truly eye-opening experience. Pun intended.