I’m Not DareDevil (But My Memory Might Be Superhuman)

I’m a blind lawyer but I’m certainly no Matt Murdoch. First of all I don’t look nearly that good in skin tight maroon leather. Second, and much more importantly, my senses are not heightened to nearly absurd degrees. Blind and visually impaired people don’t have bat like sonar, we can’t hear your whispered conversation from across a crowded room. People with disabilities are, by in large, simply more in tune with other senses to over-compensate for the one(s) they have lost.

In my case my memory is almost photographic, not Sheldon Cooper level photographic of course but then that’s just more fiction isn’t it? My memory some times scares my family. I was recently in Philadelphia for a wedding, not a city I’ve visited much. I called my Dad to chat with him about something rather insignificant and I recalled a particular memory from our first trip to the City of Brotherly Love.

“Dad, do you remember when we were driving back to the Burns’s (family friends) from the Ben Franklin Institute in 1992? The river was on the left and the UPenn crew team was rowing in the river, it was an overcast Saturday and the Duke/Michigan semifinal basketball game was on the radio”

“Adam I love you but what the fuck is wrong with you? I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday and you expect me to remember a Saturday in 1992?”

I have had a lot of similar conversations with family and friends over the years. When I’m recounting a memory like that I can see the moment in my mind, I can almost hear the radio in the car and smell the Spring flowers in front of the Burns’s house. I’ve always found it ironic that the gift I’ve been given to compensate for my poor eyesight is a “photographic” memory. Music often triggers these memories for me. I’ll hear a certain song and I remember in perfect detail a time or times I heard that song before. There’s the AC/DC song that always reminds me of a cool Autumn San Francisco morning I was walking to the 38L from my apartment in Lower Pacific Heights to Market and 3rd St. Or the Springsteen tune that triggers the smell of a warm Summer rain as I was running (cane flailing in front of me) from the T to my Beacon St. apartment in coming home from class.

I’m fortunate that my eyesight is good enough that it’s safe for me to walk around with my headphones on, music is my salvation and you’ll almost never find me walking anywhere without it. I am also incredibly mischievous so whenever I notice someone staring at the guy with the cane rocking out with headphones on I kind of mess with them a bit. I’ve been known to pick up the cane and play air guitar on it just to confuse them a bit more.

Memories are a gift. There’s one in particular I’d like to share with you all.

It was a mid-October weekend in 2013. My law practice had started six months earlier and I hadn’t taken much leisure time for myself. A local Jewish community organization had organized a “glamping” trip to the far reaches of Northwestern Maine. We trekked about two miles off the main road to the lodge. It was a little before 4 on Friday and we got to our cabins in time to rest for a few minutes and change from our hiking clothes to Shabbat attire. We laughed and prayed and ate and sang long into the night. Saturday we conducted services outside on a cool Autumn morning clad in jeans and flannel. We went on a lovely hike and stopped every so often to chant a prayer or learn from the Rabbi who was with us for the weekend. Saturday afternoon was a meaningful experience too. We had deeply philosophical study sessions about our place in the world. I could wax poetic about those experiences but without the consent of everyone else who was there I’d never violate that trust. What I do want to share with you happened much later that night.

About 2am I woke up to realize nature was calling. The cabins were lovely and comfortable but they had no facilities and the main lodge was really only open for a “different” aspect of nature’s calling. So I did what anyone would do. I walked outside of the cabin into the adjacent open field. I accomplished the task at hand . As I turned to head back to the cabin something caught my eye. I looked up expecting to see a large low-hanging moon. Instead I saw these bright sparkling lights they were “twinkling”. I realized I was seeing dozens maybe even hundreds of stars. And I could see them twinkling. I’d never seen a star before, let alone the dancing lilt of a twinkle. My vision had never been good enough to see that magic and I’d never been far enough from the lights and the pollution of more populated areas. I took a step back and realized I was quietly crying, tears streaming down my face at the beauty I was blessed to see. I fell to my knees in that dewy grass staring up at that exquisite sight and my mouth open in awe and the tears continuing to drop quietly from my eyes.

Great memory or not, that was one of those seminal moments in my life that I will never, ever forget and in that moment I was so profoundly grateful.

Take time each day to appreciate the gifts you do have, not the abilities you don’t. Recognize the many unique and wonderful ways you compensate for whatever disability you have. Celebrate your adaptability. And make memories large and small that will impact your life. Listen to music or watch a bird perched on a fence. Or wake up at 2am and see the face of G-d.

I’m not DareDevil. But I too believe “One man CAN make a difference!” These articles are the first step.

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