Often we don’t think about other people’s perspectives or talents, we just marvel at our own. I think that we especially don’t spend a lot of time ruminating over our abilities that came from our parents. I think we should; I think I should. Anyway, my dad is going blind. He has macular degeneration and has had it for quite a long time now. It is strange, because when people mention blindness or disability, I don’t ever think about my dad having it. He can still function really well, and maybe it is just because I am used to it, but when I am around him, I rarely ever notice that he can’t see things the way most everyone else does. But sometimes I do have to explain to new friends that the reason my dad doesn’t recognize them right away is because he can’t really see their face, and in high school I would read out loud to him because reading is very taxing. Anyway, back to the talent thing, as my readers already know, both I and my brother are writing books currently. I never really thought about where our writing talent came from, but a couple of nights ago, my dad was telling me that he was writing something about his experience of being blind, and that he was going to share it. Then tonight, my mom posted what he wrote on her facebook. And now I know why I love writing so much (and why my brother and I both have such an affinity for large words). Here is what my Dad wrote:
The Art of becoming blind
To start off I must confess, sometimes I have daydreams, or fantasies, or possibly more precise delusions of grandeur. I imagine that something I do or think or say will have some lasting effect on others or perhaps move them from point A to point B. Maybe I will make someone understand something they didn’t before or cause some epiphany, some “AH HA” moment that gives direction to their life. When things get really out of hand, I might end up as a popular public speaker that starts a national movement…. I did say delusions of grandeur.
Maybe I do this because of pride, maybe it’s some need for significance, possibly some of both. Whatever the reason, I find the exercise somewhat cathartic. A chance to collect thoughts in an effort to explain to myself the things going on in my life, and in the process maybe it will benefit others.
So… the art of going blind, a strange title that may need some ‘splainin’. When I think of art, painting, sculpture, and music, etc. I think of it as an expression of someone’s perspective. It was the word “perspective” that got me started on these musings. It came from a conversation with a friend whereby I was explaining how I have been able to notice things I haven’t before I started losing my vision. We pay so much attention to our central vision that things in the periphery are overlooked. I have noticed different bands or layers of color and shapes in a forest, the stark contrast of trees against the night sky and against each other. I can appreciate the overall shape of things and the textures they create as the details tend to escape me. These changes in perspective are both literal and metaphoric. The former in that ongoing physical changes force upon me physical perspective adjustments. For example, having to look away to see someone’s face, or hold something really close to make out what it says or what it is. The latter in that my attitudes and frame of reference is changing “perspective” as well. How do I see my future? Will I become bitter as convenience is removed? Will I overcompensate in some character quality or some other behavior, imperceptibility and subtle at first, so I won’t be dismissed or overlooked?
And so we come to the balance, the art of going blind. To be weighed down with some fear, anger, bitterness, sadness or to rejoice in what I still can see and do. To mourn what I have lost or to appreciate what I have. To know that you have to ask for help and at the same time desire to be independent, even as freedoms are slowly eroding.
Where is God in all of this? I would hold that He is smack dab in the middle of it. If nothing else, He is in the business of redemption. He takes things that are broken and fixes them. He takes things that are corrupt and dirty and worthless and transforms them into something worthwhile, clean and holy. I am reminded of what Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 4 starting at verse 16; “Therefore we do not lose heart, for though the outer man is decaying yet the inner man is being renewed day by day, for momentary light afflictions are producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. For we look not at what is seen but what is unseen, for what is seen is temporal and what is unseen is eternal.”
So the art of becoming blind is a balancing act, a tightrope walk of sorts, as I learn to accept transformation and change of perspective or become a slave to “a cage, to stay behind bars till use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.” (From the Lord of the Rings)
My hope is that as I learn how to express the perspective I have that it will become something artful. With God’s help at least metaphorically, the blind is receiving sight. Here’s to the day when the not yet becomes the already.