Book Review: “Travels with Charley: In Search of America”

Sometimes, you begin a book without expecting much from it, and when you finish the last page, it is ranked among your personal classics. This is the experience I had while reading “Travels with Charley”, by John Steinbeck.
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Race Day!

Every now and then, one moment in time changes your life. I had this experience when I completed my first half marathon in 2009. I was awed, humbled, and inspired by the accomplishment, and I can truly say without fear of cliché, that I will never be the same. It changed my perception of who I am as a blind person, and as a person in general. It strengthened my self-confidence. It radically rearranged my priorities and perspective.
Here is how it all happened.
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From Couch Potato to Half Marathon Finisher In Less Than a Year

It’s my belief that every person in this world can make a difference. That’s EVERYONE, not just celebrities, or the physically fit among us, or the wealthy, or the brilliant. We all have something to contribute from our own unique blend of talents, interests, and personal qualities, that will make this world a better place. If you can do just one thing well, there is someone who needs you. The secret is to find the place where you can do the greatest good for the most people. In my life as a person who is totally blind, my greatest challenge has never been getting the help I need, but rather, finding a way to give the help that is needed. I could see things that needed doing, and yet I couldn’t do them. Then there came a day when I decided I did not want to hear another word from myself about what I could not do. I chose to find the things I could do and seek out ways to help from there. It was simply a matter of focusing on the countless blessings in my life, rather than the one or two obstacles. My journey to a half marathon began by saying, “I can’t fix all the worlds’ problems, but I can make a difference for one person, or maybe several.” It was amazing to discover that all it takes to change the world is giving what you have to give, with a joyous spirit and an open heart. Continue reading “From Couch Potato to Half Marathon Finisher In Less Than a Year”

Seeing the World Without Sight

It is estimated that 40% of human sensory perception is visual. If you are sighted, you might think this would be bad news for a totally blind baby. But my loved ones found countless ways to let me see the world and develop “visual” concepts right along with my sighted peers. Whether it was colors, animals, changing landscapes and seasons, or intangibles like height and distance, they always found a way. I never thought much about this until recently, when a sighted friend remarked on how “you know a lot of things that I don’t know how you know.” Since I never had sight to use as one of my learning tools, it never occurred to me to think what sighted children would learn through their eyes, and no other way. But once I considered all the ways my loved ones taught me things, I came up with the following. Continue reading “Seeing the World Without Sight”

Please Do Not Drink and Drive!

On the night I graduated from high school, I went to a party with my friends, then to eat supper with my family.
When I woke up the next morning, I started planning the rest of my life. Months later, I went to college, met some great friends, had a lot of fun, learned a lot.
Over the next twenty years:
I went to New York, Nashville, Las Vegas, and Mexico.
I watched my brother marry his high school sweetheart, and then become a father of four.
I met the best friends anyone could ask for in a lifetime.
I walked a half marathon, and wrote a book or ten.
The one thing I did not do . . is die on the night after my high school graduation.
Four girls were injured here in east Texas, and two of them have died, not because they did anything wrong, but because their car was hit by a drunk driver.
Two lives were lost, and two others altered forever, because somebody did not have enough sense to stay off the road!
We won’t know the things these ladies would have accomplished or experienced, or the changes they would have made in the world. Chance encounters with strangers that might have lifted up a person in need won’t happen.
Their future friends will have lesser lives for not meeting them, and they don’t even know it.
And I can think of nothing more heartbreaking than a love that should have been, but never existed.
And WHY?
All because a person these girls never even met got behind the wheel while intoxicated!
I don’t know these girls who have died.
I don’t know anyone involved in the incident.
But I am heartsick over this!
I am disgusted, and furious at a system that allows this crap to continue! These kids were just out riding around, like you do after you graduate high school, and gain your freedom, and have your whole life in front of you.
They DID NOT . DESERVE TO DIE!
If the driver in question just had malfunctioning brakes, we could call this an unavoidable tragedy.
But instead, after fifty or sixty years of drunk driver-related deaths, they got drunk, and drove a car!
This is senseless!
There is no reason for things like this to continue happening! I don’t understand why drunk drivers don’t immediately lose their licenses. To my mind, driving is a privilege, not a right.
People say, “Oh but that wouldn’t be fair, these people have to get to work.” Guess what.
I’m blind, and I can’t drive. So I rely on public transportation, paid drivers, or rides from family and friends.
If you can’t be responsible, then you should not be driving, endangering yourself and the lives of others.
My heart hurts for the families and friends of these two unique individuals that were lost to this world.
I could say I’m keeping them in prayer, so sorry, all the things you say when there really is nothing you can say.
But I am sad, I am mad, and I want this senseless stupid COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE killing to stop!
You can drink all you want, but stay somewhere while you do it, or set it up with a friend in advance so they can take you where you need to go, or call a damn cab!
Just stop thinking you are invincible and above natural laws! Stop believing it won’t happen to you . . . because it will. Please don’t drink and drive!

April Showers

It was too hot in the house, too hot for spring. The room baked in late-afternoon sun. Simply breathing was calisthenics, with the air as stifling as wet wet wool. Then . . . the scent of all things April floated through the open window on a breeze kissed by the promise of rain.
There was a sound at the door, and when I opened it, a streak of tan and orange fur blew past me. He made a flying circuit through the house, circling the living room, weaving in and out of houseplants with the effortless fluidity that only a feline possesses, darting into the kitchen to sniff at leftover Mexican food and wet coffee grounds in the trash can, ignoring his food bowl, tearing up and down the hall once or twice, digging furiously in his sand box, flying back through the living room. A ribbon of purr-meows trailed him on his mad dash, maybe an invitation to play, maybe a rhetorical question about why humans would be so stupid as to stand still at such a glorious time for running. I assumed he sensed the rain coming, and wanted inside, but after a quick check of his territory, he was gone again. Continue reading “April Showers”

Adversity Is a Character Builder

It has been over a week since I have written anything here.
I am currently experiencing a state of zero energy, and brain fog. I think/hope it is a result of hypothyroidism, because if it is, and if I can get natural rather than synthetic thyroid medication, the problem will be solved, and boring health posts will be banished from the blog.
But since I started it, let’s just call this a biographical post, and I will briefly explain my challenges, because they are the foundation from which I have had to build my attitudes about adversity, and perseverance. This will not be my most interesting post, but I hope it gives you some insight to the way in which I have developed my philosophy for living.
When I was young, my Dad would always tell me that adversity is a character builder. I appreciate his words now more than ever, because I see these difficulties as strengthening agents, rather than impediments. So if you can slog through this post with me, I promise, there is a point I want to make by telling my story, and there will be something uplifting at the end.
Continue reading “Adversity Is a Character Builder”