I had a friend once compare blindness to being like the color blue. Most people assume that a blind person is in the dark because there is a loss of eyesight. There is no dark or light when it comes to blindness, just like there is no normal or abnormal whether a person has vision or no vision. Why must the general idea be that a person must have sight to be able to succeed or compete?
As a child I identified myself as having low vision. I struggled to keep up with my peers. I aimed to please my teachers by telling them I could see when I really couldn’t. I was ashamed to identify myself as blind or with other blind people because there seemed to be such a negative stigma on the word blind. My parents never mentions the word blind. I often lived by the motto of, “Fake it till you make it.” But who was I really fooling? Everyone knew. I wasted so much time and energy trying to be like everyone else. All I really needed was someone to tell me that it was ok to be me. It’s ok to be blind.
When we all found out that my daughter has Optic Nerve Atrophy we all went through all sorts of emotions. In order to fully process we need to go through the stages of grief. But if you end up staying in one emotion or another and not fully moving on then you will never accept the fact that blindness isn’t an illness. We don’t “suffer “from Optic Nerve Atrophy, We “have” Optic Nerve Atrophy. It isn’t something to fight or feel sorry about. It is something to emrace and make beautiful.
Last weekend we spent four days at Zion National Park. Unfortunately, since we brought our dog, I spent most of the time at the campsite or on the single trail that allowed dogs so that my husband could experience some of the hikes. He took our Marley along too while her brother napped. Saying that she did great on the hikes would be an understatement. She had so much excitement and animation in her when she told me about their adventure, I just about burst with pride as I listened to her stories. On the last morning there, my husband encouraged me to do some of the hikes and he would clean and pack up camp. After going back and forth on it, I finally decided that it would be such a bummer to not have experience any of the beauty that Zion has to offer. I’m so glad I did. At the top of the first hike I had to sit in awe for some time at what I might have missed because I was afraid of hiking alone. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find the shuttle stop or wouldn’t be able to find the right trails and end up on one of the longer or tougher trails. If I would have let the fear overpower my love for the outdoors, the trip would have felt like a waste of a weekend.
Yesterday I heard the same phrase in two completely different movies, “Wall-E” and ’12 Years a Slave.””I don’t want to survive! I want to live!” Surviving is so boring. All you need for survival is food and shelter. To live is to laugh, to taste, to learn, to experience, to feel, to love, to grow. This can be applied to all aspects of life. So to you I ask that instead of just doing what you know you can do, do what you are afraid that you can’t. Challenge yourself everyday, and challenge those around you to do the same.
Here are a few photos from our Zion trip. We love having fun with the self timer feature on our camera. Enjoy!