Whenever you talk about a thing like blindness, the first thing that comes to mind is the negatives. Even the blind people (and I’m not generalizing) who’re usually positive are made to feel quite defencive about their disability, not because they lack self-belief, but because people around them perpetrate the belief that they’ve remarkably fewer abilities.
It might sound ridiculous, but I’ve been asked things like “do you shave on your own,” and even “do you bathe yourself?” Such questions usually come from those who haven’t met a blind person; those who think that blindness make us a lesser of a human being and diminishes our intelligence.
Even otherwise, human beings universally are conditioned to think that blindness is a disability, a serious limitation that impairs a person’s ability to function in most situations. Which may be true to a greater extent, but it’s also true that most of the environments we function are designed for those who can see and rarely help enhance the abilities of someone who can’t.
The so-called mainstream world strongly believes that not seeing is a negative side of a person and it’s virtually impossible to lead a gratifying life without sight. I’ve written in these very pages before that this general and very stereotypical characterization of blindness isn’t always true.
First, let’s get this out of the way: blindness isn’t an experiment or necessarily the fun thing; even someone like me who thinks blindness isn’t all that bad doesn’t wish anyone to be blind. But we live in the world of technologically-driven enlightenment, where diversity is an asset and inclusion is a virtue. So, you can’t exclude the disability or blindness experience. And if you ought to include the blindness narrative in the mainstream, you can’t be talking about it in a negative sense and portray blind people as some kind of Braveheart tragic heroes.
That leaves us with the positives of being blind. And let me assure you that whatever I’m saying isn’t theoretical or hypothetical; these are facts derived from real life experiences. I can narrate a story on each of them, but that’d mean I’ll have to write a book instead of a blogpost. So, let me just talk about the points.
If you’re blind, no one expects you to be efficient at anything. Yeah, yeah, I hear you grumbling about the stereotypical characterization of the blind man keeping precise and measured steps. But that’s not always true, especially in a professional environment. I’m not suggesting people don’t believe in your efficiency, but they don’t set the bar very high, which is a positive thing because you can still reach higher standards without having to endure the pressure.
I’m sure those ‘able-bodied’ folks reading this, especially those working in marketing and sales, may wish it were true for them, because higher targets and tougher deadlines mostly achieve the opposite effect: blunting the individual’s ability to excel. So, we have a bright smile and nod in relieved acknowledgement that “I don’t have to go through that grind, but can still do much better than whatever the target my boss could’ve set for me.” And what more, your productivity levels are naturally very high and you don’t get stressed out so quick.
*Insulated from hate:
Let’s face this: there’s so much hate around the world on account of one’s religious, caste and political affiliations. And social media has given the freedom for many to vent their ire. And it’s all getting a wee bit out of control and distasteful. The only category of people who escape from politicization of their identity are people with disability. No matter what religion, caste or community I belong, people refer to me as “that blind man,” which could irk me in certain circumstances, but the fact that I somehow become a universally acceptable identity is a relief in these days of political polarization (honestly, anything that saves me from twitter trolls and Facebook warriers is a relief).
* Ignoring unimportant things:
Being blind doesn’t impair my imagination. I can picture the reddish tint of the horizon before the orange glow of the sun showing up from the depths of the blue, especially since I grew up in a coastal city where I had opportunities to witness the dawn at the beach (during my days as a kid who could see).
I can picture most of the common flowers like rose or jasmine. A garden of sunflowers looking like a yellow layer above the green leaves that I happened to see in a movie song still remains fresh in my memory.
The blessing of blindness is that I can afford to ignore most of the unimportant things around me. Particularly the television. Yeah, you may be a fan of ‘the game of thrones’ or the local version of who wants to be a millionaire, but I agree with Stephen King who says turning off that monster of an instrument is bound to improve your quality of life.
Not just that, I won’t know a flushed face (except for the emoticon), a wonderful thing considering that anger is instantly communicable. I could focus on my work without getting distracted, even if a beauty queen in her best attire were to go past my desk. That helps me maintain the quality of my work and improve productivity at large.
What sights can do to most people, sounds would do to me. So a beautiful voice, for instance, helps me picture a brilliant face and, what more, I can always picture that face as a loving and kind one even if the person in reality can’t be described with those attributes.
And I can go on. But the point is this: every situation in life has positives. It’s up to you to look at the brighter side, even if it’s dark. After all, the other side of darkness is often bright!