Forward Looking

The brain churns away like an old electric concrete mixer, going endlessly around and around, just now and then tipping out something useful. My brain at least, your’s may be a purring, whizzing wonder. Little by little, I find myself thinking of new ideas, new ways to see.

The trick to typing is this: Use one eye only, and pretend you are writing by hand. Look only at the word you are typing, and having finished a paragraph DO NOT re-read it.  Tripple Click on the finished thought, and use Text to Speech to read the paragraph aloud.  Avoid looking down to the keyboard if at all possible – fortunately I can “touch-type”. This is the method I’ve discovered to avoid eye strain.  As long as I keep my eyes still, not scaring left to right, left to right, left to right …. I can see reasonably well.

This is this week’s discovery, and if it goes to plan this post may just work.

For the first time since my physical health turned south, just over nine years ago, I’ve found myself for most of almost three weeks to be despairingly sad, a deep shade of blue. The “grumpy” episode I wrote about last time turned out not to be one off. It was not, as I had thought, just disappointment at a delay in a long awaited optometrical solution. I realised this when the glasses with prism lenses duly arrived, made a huge difference to my sight, but little difference to my mood.

I am not by nature a sad person.  I am sometimes rather shocked by the stern, vaguely sad look on my face in a mirror, but it does not at all mirror the general feeling of my soul which is glad and bright more often than not. The despaired feeling of these few weeks was not completely unknown of course: being human brings you inevitably into contact with every emotion. But the persistence of the feeling: the unshifting, pitying, bleak-black soul darkness was unlike anything I could remember.  Sadness was everywhere I looked. Thoughts that seemed unable to rise above impending doom on every front. When the Liberal government failed to endorse the recommendation of Australia’s Chief Scientist to implement a Clean Energy Target I felt as though the future of mankind had been sealed and doomed for ever and ever.

So I took my blighted heart to my regular GP appointment this week and asked her if this was normal. “What”, I asked, doubting that anyone could give me an answer, “is wrong”. I have a terrific doctor. She listens carefully, follows up every thought and lead, and is not afraid to offer advice or a reframed view of the situation. After a few more probing questions she said it sounded like grief, and asked me,

“What are you missing? Is there something you have lost?”

I replied without a moment to process the question. I didn’t think at all, the answer was immediate:

“I miss my eyesight; I can’t read”.

Years ago I wrote a post in Rejoice! titled, The Gift of Loosing Things. I had lost my driver’s licence, and a number of other important things in life besides. It’s a good essay I think, there is wisdom there that I still draw from – I hope that doesn’t sound immodest, but sometimes a person can write to themselves as much as to others. But none of that wisdom was adequate to my experience of vision loss. It has far eclipsed the challenges of mobility, my early terror of wheelchairs, the pining I feel at times for useful employment, even loosing the ultimate joy of running wildly in the park with my little girl. Vision loss is the toughest of them all.

But months have passed since this began, and much has been regained. The prism glasses first and foremost – they are such a help, even though the world I see through them has an oddity about it that defies description. I’ve filled books – small ones – with handwriting, discovering that writing is the perfect activity because your eyes don’t

A current Pyrography project

really move much.  I’ve spent a great deal of time on a newish hobby: Pyrography, burning designs into wood, which is very similar because your eyes stay fixed on one part of the pattern for a long time. After many attempts I think I’m learning to listen to audio-books. Initially I found it impossible to concentrate in the way that you do when reading, and I could not retain anything much that I heard. Perhaps it’s a wonder of neuroplasticity, but for some reason feel I’m using my brain differently now and audio-books are starting to make sense. Looking for things, roving your eyes around a room to find that missing item, is one of the hardest tasks and my biggest problem. So I’m organising, being very deliberate. I have a corner of the kitchen bench carefully laid out which nobody else is allowed to touch! Theoretically.Sincere thanks to those readers who read right through my hand-written post and told me they had.  It was needed communication, and so rewarding. Thank you indeed!

Life is irresistible isn’t it? It must go on, we must find a way.

I’ve written too much, and I will not re-read. In the past I have read every phrase a dozen times at the very least, and the whole essay a dozen more to find the best word and the smallest mistake. So this may be a right mess!