You read it right: this ability. What I can’t do is see.
What I can do is act, write, sing, dance, tell jokes (my best virtue), run a business, listen, observe human behavior, give guidance to my adult children, love, shop for groceries, and water my plants. I can also clean my house (but avoid doing that as much as possible).
I’ve found that most of the world sees my disability first – blindness trumps all my other abilities until people get familiar with me. And then something curious happens – they forget I’m blind.
Often a pal will walk away from me when we’re out and about. We stop to put our plastic bags in the recycling bin in front of the supermarket and my pal takes off without me. Funny stuff. I simply call out, “Hey, did you forget something?”
I’ve always found it curious that folks in our society create an instant opinion of others based on skin color, gender, disability…hey, even clothing, before the first words are uttered between the two parties.
Years ago, when I was selling consumer electronics, an unshaven customer walked into my shop wearing cut-off jeans, flip-flops and a torn sweatshirt. All my salespeople ignored him until he asked for some help. I immediately gave him my full attention. An hour later he was out the door with a $4500 stereo system. Turns out he was an attorney, satisfying his inner slacker on his day off. My sales guys were miffed.
I suppose it’s our nature to judge folks before we get to know them. Must be in our DNA. Where disability is concerned, the ruling seems to be if one part of you is broken, the rest of you must be broken too.
It has occurred to me that Franklin D. Roosevelt might not ever have been elected President if TV sets were abundant in the 1930s. People seeing a man in a wheelchair might have had serious doubts that he could lead this country out of the Great Depression or be a strong Commander-in-Chief as we entered World War II.
Imagine seeing a woman in a wheelchair and instantly becoming interested in her skills rather than her method of ambulating. And then maybe also finding out that she plays basketball and is a med student too. It’s about what we can do, not what we can’t do. It’s about this ability.
By the way, I now only give guidance to my grown children when they ask for it. Unsolicited advice from anyone is unwanted, especially from blind fathers with this ability.