What if we can not see what is in front of us? There are many cliché’s that try to answer this question. for instance , you don’t realize what you have until it is gone or if it was any closer it would bite you, but all these are doing is excusing and minimalizing the effects of being visually impaired. I often have to remind people that we do not have to be black blind to be visually impaired or blind. I would like to challenge you by asking what are you not able to see or what can be made clearer to you? for me it is quite easy to answer this because every day I have to live in the perpetual state of visual impairment. I would take the stance that we are all blind to something whether it is due to ignorance or arrogance. We can be impaired to see things we want to see and that is a tough reality. The cigarette smoker knows they should put down the cigarette, the child knows they shouldn’t go into the cookie jar, the students know they should take notes for the upcoming test. For me, I am not able to enter into community that I long for and that I know is good for me because I can not see people.
What happens when we can not see
Availability and impression are key in initiating the first steps to entering into a community. if you do not have anybody you need to find somebody that is available and somebody that you desire to talk to. I have realized those are two things that I do not have the privilege of being able to do at a glance. The normal things of entering into class and find that person you have a common interest with, I can not do by myself; striking up a random conversation with somebody that is not on their cell phone, is something I can not do by myself; introducing myself to somebody that is deaf, is something I can not do by myself. When we are not able to see it takes away our independence and limits us. This does not just happen with physical visual impairment, but with others things. it just happens to be recently I have been noticing that being blind limits my ability to enter into community.
What do we do with our impairment’s
If I just said I had one impairment I would not be honest with myself and honest with you, but it is not about the amount of impairments I have or you have. When we see our impairments it is not the quantity or even the intensity of our impairments, but how we use our impairments. My visual impairment is real and is tough and I bet the jealous impairment, the addiction impairment, the gossip impairment, the selfish impairment, the validation impairment, the hopeless impairment and all the many other tough and burdensome impairments are all real and tough things. we have a choice to get bitter or get better though. The getting better process is not quick and it is alright to be bitter through that process , but we need to come to a place to see our impairments as something that can be restored for good. The best way to do that is in the company of somebody else.
What to do when we can not see
I could just stumble my way to a seat inn class, I could walk out of church and straight to the car I got a ride in, I could try to start a conversation with a mannequin because it looks like a human body, I could stand on the outside and feel sorry for myself. It is hard to not do those things and the is even harder to fight the temptation to accept pity, but the one thing that keeps me pushing towards community is that I can not be blind by myself, I can not be impaired by myself, I can not get through this struggle by myself, I can not find community by myself. Whether you are interpreting this from a spiritual stand point or merely a relational stand point it can be observed that we need others to be involved in our impairments. Whatever your impairment is it is best to get through or to live the impaired life with somebody. If you do not have somebody use your resources. For me it was asking a professor or asking a resource desk or talking to a leader; these resources will be able to lead you to somebody that can accompany you. For me I use a friend as my eyes and my guide to help me find community. If you are impaired ask for help and if you don’t think you are impaired ask a friend what you might be blind too, but once that friend tells you remember an impairment is best dealt with if you have somebody to accompany you.