How tragedy is the root of improvement
Your eyes are open, but blackness prevails. After a twist of your finger in the sockets and a few squeezing blinks, the blackness does not dissipate. Now confused, you grope the surroundings hoping that sleep still controls your mind, and this is all a dream. Every fiber of your being is consumed by darkness. It’s time to panic!
Later at the hospital, a doctor explains that you are the victim of giant cell arteritis. No cure exists for this diagnosis. Blindness has become a permanent state.
What if this happened to you?
No doubt you will be gripped by fear. This is a whole new level of being afraid of the dark. You rely on other senses to help navigate the world. Any sound you hear will be the proverbial “bump in the night.” The vivid images of color are replaced with the necessary memories of obstacles and the pathways around them.
In the midst of working to maneuver through a daily routine, a new fear begins to manifest. As you fight to recall the faces of loved ones, you realize how heavily you rely on their assistance. In the outside world, you will need to rely on total strangers regularly. The vulnerability you have vehemently opposed to this point in your life must now be a constant. Are you prepared to be vulnerable?
The five stages
According to the Kübler-Ross model, introduced by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, you will enter the five stages of grief. The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with loss. Most commonly associated with death, this process applies is necessary to gain acceptance of your loss of sight.
Reaching acceptance is a journey that not all people can complete. Will you be one those people mired in self-pity and depression? How long will you continue to feel sorry for yourself and ask, “why me?” While yours may be greater than most, everybody suffers tragedy and loss. Suffering does not make you special. It makes you human. Can you find acceptance in your life?
After the time necessary to reach acceptance, another thought penetrates your soul. You begin to notice subtle changes.
You find that without the capacity to see people, you cannot prejudge them on appearance. It no longer matters how a person dresses or the car they drive. Fat or skinny, tall or short, your first impression does not allow for this anymore. Instead of judging, you make a human connection by listening to their tone and words of kindness or unkindness towards others. Your evaluative skills become less shallow by using the complete arsenal of the tools on your belt.
Judgments about yourself also change since your model for comparison is now different. You cannot look into a physical mirror, but you discover a virtual mirror through which to compare your deeds and actions. Will being less judgmental on the appearance of myself and others make me a better person?
Blindness has transformed you both physically and emotionally. Accepting this change has deepened your relationships and led to personal growth. You now see the world differently through a new set of eyes.
Do you need to be blind?
After reading this article, you likely have begun to feel empathy for a blind person. Empathy allows you to share the feelings and the struggle of another person. It is a powerful emotion.
Hopefully, you considered the questions at the end of each segment.
- Are you prepared to be vulnerable?
- Can you find acceptance in your life?
- Will being less judgmental on the appearance of myself and others make me a better person?
Try using empathy in everyday situations. Look at life from the perspective of another persons experience. A rude cashier might be on the second of her two jobs today, or the guy who cut you off in traffic is rushing to the hospital to witness the birth of his son. Most of the time, you will not know their situation but imagine what would cause you to act in that manner. An understanding smile or a kind gesture goes a long way.
Ask yourself one final question. Do you need to be blind to answer these questions, or are you suffering a different kind of blindness?