A Different Point Of View

I learned a lot about blindness during my conversation with Chris Avila, a senior at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. But there was one resounding impression that he left on me:

He just wants to be like everyone else. So in his mind, he is.

I can relate to that.

He goes to the same restaurants as anybody else would. Orders pizza just like every other high schooler, and the cheaper, the better. He watches TV. He listens to music.

I asked him whether he’s dated anyone before. He cocked his head and laughed.

“Of course I have,” he said.

I asked him whether it’s any different than a normal dating relationship. He cocked his head again.

“No, not really,” he said. Then he paused. “Well, except for sending nudes. Pictures just don’t do it for me.”

I laughed.

I have no idea what it’s like to be blind. Can’t imagine what it’s like to go through life without seeing. But I can imagine what it’s like to have a chronic disease. Or to have a food allergy. Or to be a diabetic. Or to have a physical impairment that everyone can see.

And I can understand, like Avila, just wanting to be like everyone else. And striving to make that desire a reality.

I asked Avila whether or not he ever struggles with confidence. He laughed and said no. He’s been told that he’s too confident. Borderline arrogant. I asked him if he thinks that confidence will serve him well as moves on to college. He said he’s gotten mixed answers.

Here’s my answer, Chris. Your confidence will do nothing but benefit you in the years to come.

It’s something I wish I had, but have never really been able to summon. I have inner-confidence, and I certainly don’t doubt myself, but rarely show that outwardly. It’s much easier to put my head down, be bashful and go about my way without saying much.

Most of my friends and coworkers have no idea that I’m a diabetic. They have no idea that I take upwards of 30 pills every day. They have no idea that I go to a half a dozen doctor’s appointments every year, and that’s if everything is going to the way it’s supposed to. They have no idea that for 18 years or so, I spent hours doing physical therapy every week, or that I still spend an hour or so every day doing various treatments to keep my lungs functioning the way they’re supposed to.

And I’m fine with that. That’s the way that I would prefer it. That’s the way I engineer it.

Avila and I are different in plenty of ways, but we both have the same goal. And, as far as I can tell, we’re both happy with where it’s gotten us. We do things differently. But seeing Avila was a nice reminder that there’s no one right way to do anything.

The question is, are you making the most of what you’ve been given?

He certainly is. I’d like to think I am too.