To a large degree I feel comfortable about the prospect of going blind. I would prefer if it did not happen; however, the world will not end if it does, although the reduced independence would be somewhat bothersome.
Occasionally I chat with friends about this subject. Comparisons start to come into play. For me, my hearing is infinitely more valuable than my sight. Hearing is conversation and music. Need I say more?
I am also quite fond of the whole concept of putting one foot in front of another and going for a walk. Not so easy for those in wheelchairs.
On the positive side of things, being vision impaired has introduced me to many people and activities that I otherwise would not have encountered. In particular, skiing. To me vision impaired skiing stands as a beacon as to how life could be. Fully sighted people freely giving their time and energy to assist those of us who are a little different. Human beings working together.
On the less positive side of the fence there are times when being vision impaired does prove to be nothing more than a downright nuisance.
Rainy evenings in the city are not my favourite. Standing at six feet small, I am at an ideal height to be on the receiving end of the lethal weapon of mass destruction that is otherwise known as an umbrella. On these soggy evenings the good citizens of Dublin tend not to dilly dally too much. Bad news for me.
Street furniture is another one of my pet disagreements with the upstanding traders of our capital city. I am very much in favour of outside seating for bars and cafes. My issue is when the boat gets pushed out too far. If you’re that keen on Australia, I humbly suggest taking a plane.
Elections and referenda fall into a similar category for this particular vision impaired musician / skier. My issue here is election posters and the height at which they are erected. Is it too much to ask that these items are placed at a height of six and a half feet and over? When I want a haircut I go to my cousin’s hairdressing salon. He looks after me very well.
Technology is a great friend to the vision impaired / blind community. Audio described cinema and voice over / speech recognition phones being just two examples. Not so friendly are the fully sighted individuals who insist on glueing their faces to their smart phones as they walk.
Finding a vision impaired friendly pub in Dublin can be something of an issue. Our capital city is blessed with many great pubs. Unfortunately, a good number of them are dark, have various crooks and nannies, and toilets with marathon-like approaches. Non merci.
A good pub, to my mind, is one where there are no steps to negotiate, is well lit, has a simple layout, an easily accessible toilet and staff who understand the meaning of my good friend, the white cane.
Fortunately, there are one or two establishments that fall into this category. Conveniently, one such place has a pair of lanterns that adorn the entrance. At night they act as magnetic-like beacons to guide stray two legged ships such as my good self safely into porter.
Not forgetting the saga that is shopping for clothes. I do accept the fact that If I were to choose to completely reject this aspect of life then there is every chance I will be strolling the streets of our capital city in a naturist-type manner. Me, my cane and not a lot else. There are only so many things that society is capable of handling.
So, from time to time, after much deep breathing and many weeks of yoga and mindfulness as preparation for the trauma ahead, I cross the line from the relative calm of the outside world and venture forth into the helter skelter existence that is the land of shops.
Narrow spaces, stock hanging out of ceilings, finding required items, staff who struggle to comprehend the meaning of a white cane are the main issues. Quite a large sigh of relief seems to exhale from my lungs as soon as my expedition concludes.
So that’s the way the cookie crumbles. The pro’s and the con’s of vision impaired city life. So is my glass half full or half empty?
Rhetorical questions, who needs them?