Today, October 21, 2018, marks the 13th anniversary of the discovery of my sight loss. As I sat writing this post, it occurred to me that while the anniversary itself isn’t a happy one, great things can be found in what came out of it.
Obviously, if I chose to look at it with the view of what was lost, then yes, I suppose I could feel sad about it. I had to change careers, moving out of the operations side of the television business because I wasn’t able to see screens with the amount of detail needed to do the job well. I haven’t been behind the wheel of a car since 2005, and yes, I miss taking a long, leisurely, highway drive – that is, if you call cruising down the highway at 100 km/h leisurely. Plus, I have trouble seeing the faces of friends, family members, and anyone else I’ve met since October 21, 2005. If I want to look at my life from that perspective, then yes, I would be very sad.
But as those who knew me before that fateful day, and likely those who’ve met me since then will tell you, that’s not the way I look at the world. Over the past few months I’ve been looking back at all that has happened since the fall of 2005, and I really like my life.
I was in a Chapters store in Calgary yesterday, talking to customers about my book, and I said to more than one of them, “nearly everything I’ve done, and almost everyone I’ve met, including you, (the person in the book store) would not have happened if I hadn’t lost my sight. The fact that I was in the bookstore at all yesterday — was because of my sight loss.
Something else that changed about me all those years ago was my desire to read. For the first 30-plus years of my life, I was not a fan of reading, I found it boring. After losing my sight, I started listening to audio books and eventually gravitated toward e-books. At book signings, I like telling customers that one of the things I find ironic is that I can’t actually read my own book in print, but as an e-book, I’ve read it and many others because my phone reads the book to me. For yesterday’s book signing at Chapters, a friend who stopped by pointed out that the book shelf behind my table contained many of the books I’ve read by authors like Carol Dweck, Stephen Covey, and more. I felt like I was in great company.
Whether it’s at the book stores, through work, or wherever, I meet a lot of people in my day-to-day activities, and yet, I can’t recognize any of them. I can probably give you a general description of their height, general body shape, and possibly their hair colour, but that’s about it. But honestly, seeing their faces isn’t nearly as important to me as hearing their voices. Many of the people in my life are happy, caring people I enjoy spending time with, and that means more to me than knowing what they look like.
It was a few months after we discovered my sight loss that I realized I wouldn’t be able to stay in the job I had been doing in television operations, and maybe I didn’t have to change completely. Perhaps I could have worked in an administrative role in television, but I decided to go a different direction, and looking back on it, I’m glad I did. It wasn’t an easy switch. I had a lot to learn, and some roles I tried didn’t work out so well, but along the way, I met many more people, made some amazing new friends, and eventually my meandering path led me to a dream role doing community education for CNIB.
Unlike many people, I enjoy public speaking, and whether I’m talking about the great work we do at CNIB or giving talks about my book, I find being in front of people energizing. Do I get nervous? A little bit, sure. I learned years ago that if I’m not at least a little nervous before speaking in front of a group, somebody had better check my pulse because I might be dead.
So yea, I could be sad if I wanted to, but I’d rather not. To me, that would be a boring waste of a life. If you’ve been reading other posts on this blog, have read the book, or have seen me in my favourite blue t-shirt, you already know that I am on this planet for fun. The past 13 years have been a roller coaster of highs and lows, and one heck of an adventure. I have no idea what the next 13 years and more have in store for me, but if there’s fun to be had, I’ll find it.