Have you ever walked blind folded with guidance through a maze of hundreds of people, tables and unknown obstacles on city streets? While being guided you are continually listening to many conversations from all directions, the person guiding you describing your location and at times live music. While navigating through the crowd, people occasionally bump into you, step on your toes or accidentally bump small shopping carts into you since they do not notice you can’t see with your blindfold on and are not able to see them to move out of their way. As this activity is occurring all around, you are constantly updating the picture of the environment you are experiencing in your mind’s eye while traveling through such a wonderful and exhilarating sensory extravaganza.
From time to time you may stop and hold an object placed in your hands by one of the people you are with. You might even feel brave enough to explore the objects on the table on your own by delicately feeling around until you find an object without breaking anything or injuring yourself on anything sharp. As soon as you touch an object you attempt to determine what the object is by tactical senses only. Other times you may receive assistance from others as they describe the object you are holding or touching to the best of their ability. Some objects are far too large or heavy to pick up or get your hands around therefore you may only be able to touch a portion of the object. You attempt to hold some of the objects as carefully and delicately as possible because they are very fragile and extremely difficult to replace if you accidentally break it.
I am very excited and pleased to say twice last month I had the opportunity to experience the equivalent of walking through such a sensory extravaganza blindfolded. My wife and I graciously accepted the invitation from two of our friends to attend the “San Juan Bautista Antique and Collectors fair“ and the “ Niles Antique Faire & Flea Market“. What made this opportunity extra special is because my wife and I have not been able to attend these two enjoyable events for many years since I lost all of my eyesight suddenly and can no longer get to some destinations due to transportation barriers.
Participating in these two events enabled me to visualize many objects in my mind’s eye and enjoy the beauty and fine craftsmanship in these vintage objects. I can remember the vivid art work, colors and the detailed craftsmanship in the objects I was able to touch and hold. This brought back positive memories of when I could see the objects I am now able to visualize and enjoy them without eyesight.
I understand everyone is different and that is what makes life wonderful. If you have the opportunity to continue to enjoy what you once did despite any new challenges including losing some abilities, I hope you will not let these challenges deter you from enjoying life. Since I lost my eyesight and now need to walk with one support cane and one long navigation cane I still seek the enjoyment from the activities I once did as a sighted person with modifications as required.
I also understand that participating in activities which require modifications in order to accomplish take extra time to plan and prepare to complete safely. It can also be frightening for some to venture out into the unknown and put their complete trust in others to help them overcome some challenges to create a successful and joyful experience.
Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is a side benefit of participating in activities you enjoy. For example I walked approximately six hours each of the two days taking breaks as needed, breathing fresh air outdoors and holding many conversations with many friendly people at the events I described.
Do you have a story about some activities you may have thought you might not be able to enjoy again? Any examples about how you modified the way you had once accomplished the activity to help make your new experience a success? Do you have tips to help us take that extra calculated risk keeping safety in mind to stretch our comfort level to enjoy activities we thought we could no longer accomplish?
I look forward to hearing your valuable thoughts and comments.
Global Dialogue Center