Craig J. Hansen

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Some years ago, we hosted a foreign exchange student. She was from Thailand. She was funny, adaptable, curious, and spoke excellent English. But when pressed with a  question or situation she didn’t particularly like, she would go wide-eyed and say “I just poor Thai girl.”

This is a tempting strategy.

When someone says to me something like “come over here and help me move this long dead elephant” or “I don’t like this F grade – can you give me an A?” Or “let’s all walk barefoot on hot coals,” I look down bashfully and say “sorry, I don’t see very well.”

I’ve tried this for getting out of doing dishes or the thing I hate most in this world, raking leaves, but it hasn’t done me much good. On the other hand, I think this could work very well if, for example someone wanted me to perform an emergency tracheotomy.

So legally blind does present some opportunities. No one else really knows what you can do what you can’t do, what you can see her what you can’t see. I suppose I could take advantage of that and refuse to do anything remotely objectionable. Indeed, as an aside, when people ask me what I can see, I usually say that I don’t know. It’s not a very satisfying answer for any of us, but it’s truthful. What I can see various so extremely from situation to situation, depending on lighting conditions, contrast, familiarity, fatigue, and motivation, that it is hard for me to generalize. If I wanted to tell them more, I’d tell them to try looking through a people covered with Vaseline, and that is pretty close.

But for the same reasons that I resisted showing any trace of vision impairment for as long as I could and continue to push myself into situations that are not only challenging exhausting, I’ve been hesitant to use my eyes as an excuse. I’m Scandinavian heritage and we show no weakness. We are Vikings. I like the Vikings adage “I’d rather die in a pool of blood than a puddle of piss.” So bring it on. Blindness is just an inconvenience.

Some big, dumb part of me really believes this. In my more rational moments, I’m aware of the balancing act honesty and excuse, adventure and recklessness. I think it was Woody Allen who said there was a fine line between comedy and tragedy. Perhaps that’s the line I walk.

My one indulgence and excuse is my disability parking tag, which I can tote with me everywhere. I think I could survive without it, but it sure makes things easier to use it. I’m not sure that’s a good enough reason. I will allow myself this one indulgence, however. There aren’t a lot of perks was going blind and I can actually share this one with those who drive me.

It’s possible that my bravado will someday melt away and I will become a recluse. I’ll let my hair grow a little too long, won’t shave for three days, and where the same sweatshirt way too much. But wait, I already do that. It may be something I’ll have to work on, and people may say to me “you aren’t a very good hermit.” And then I’ll say “sorry, I don’t see very well.”