ost of us are used to having all our senses sharp and working all day long to make our life easier and safer. And if there is a person who is different from us in some way, e.g. has one of their senses shut-down so to speak, it is often difficult to relate to such a person. I have tried to imagine I am a blind person and tried to live life in the darkness for some time just to attempt to understand their feelings better. Here is my account of a day from my imaginary role reversed life after I have tried walking and doing other things with my eyes shut. I imagine being blind for some time, therefore I describe some feelings and experiences I presume I would have being a blind person.
I am wakened in the morning by some beeping sounds, coming from a device, which I have come to know as a “clock”. Slipping my fingers over my wristwatch, which has no glass covering I can tell that it is eight o’clock in the morning.
Slowly and deliberately I sat up and swung my feet over my bed until I had them firmly planted on the floor. Several falls have taught me to take slow, careful, but steady steps in anything I do. Being careful is my second nature now. I got up, dressed and made my way to the kitchen. Before, it was quite a feat for me if I would make it to the kitchen without knocking something over or falling myself. But with practice it got easier and there is no need to count my steps any more. It comes naturally.
I opened the cupboard and reached for where the cereal box usually is. Today it was not there. Having no ability to see I had to grope around the shelf in search of my breakfast, but to no avail. Where could it be and what to do now? I could feel my stomach rumbling. Then I remembered: my friend Tom, who usually stops by every evening to bring in some groceries and a box of “Wheaties” for my breakfast, had left a message on my phone saying that he would not be able to come over that evening. He apologized profusely and invited me to come over for breakfast and a visit the next day. This was great news.
I love visiting Tom. He is my best friend, and is like the older brother I never had. He helped me learn many vital things in life, such as how to get dressed, wash, eat, tell time, read Braille and many others. Unlike most other people, Tom always takes time to stop, listen and talk to me. And though sometimes he does not really understand me, I always appreciate him for being there for me.
I wanted to go visit Tom also because his mother is an excellent cook. She makes the greatest apple pie I ever tasted for breakfast. I could not say no to that.
I changed my clothes and found my phone and keys. I have learned to always keep these things in the same place as they get lost easily. Even people who can see can relate to this. Imagine how important it is for me to stay organized. I put my shoes on, grab my cane and glasses and step out of the house, making sure to lock the door and put the keys into a zip-up pocket. Turning around, I begin the short stretch to the bus stop.
Having arrived there, I waited for a few minutes. I could hear whispers of other passengers waiting and I knew some of them were about a man with shades and a white cane. Before, this would disturb me, but now I have learned to pay no attention. In fact, sometimes it is even easier for me to ignore words than for people who can see. I can only hear their words, which can sometimes be quite hurtful, but not seeing the authors of such words makes it easier to ignore them. Eventually I heard the familiar sound of an old MCI cruiser motor coming closer. I turned to where I presumed another passenger stood waiting for a bus and asked if this is the bus I needed to get on to which she said yes.
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It is not without difficulty, feeling my way around with my cane and hands that I climbed into the bus and found a seat. Having sat down, I once again began pondering the way everyday people treat us with no sight. I thought about my question to an unknown passenger waiting with me for her bus. This question triggered different reactions – from a short answer “Yes” or “No”, to angry replies about me disturbing them or laughter at me, to sympathetic answers or total ignore. There were some who openly felt pity for me, which made me feel very inferior and hurt. Then there were some people, who would patiently answer and help me get on my bus while at the same time treating me as equal. These were few and far-between, but that helped appreciate them all the more.
I counted the stops, till I reached the right street, carefully exited the bus and turned to the direction Tom’s house was supposed to be. I walked fifty-three steps and turned right, to where there was supposed to be Tom’s door. Sometimes I walked a little too far; sometimes I stopped a little too early, so I gingerly knocked on the door. Thankfully, the familiar sound of my hand knocking on a cedar ears told me I had made it to the right place. Tom’s mother opened the door and ushered me in, very happy to see me.
My day turned out great, as those spent at Tom’s house usually do. I eagerly ate the delicious apple pie and spent the day talking to Jane, as well as playing and listening to her playing piano. In the evening, Tom returned from work and gave me a ride back home. On the way we talked and I was once more convinced about how lucky I was to have such a great friend.
Upon returning home, I prepared myself for bed. It had been a long, but good day. I said my prayers and went to sleep. The last thought I remember going through my head before I drifted off was that God was great; life was indeed good and more than worth living.
Being a blind person that is how my average day would run. Also, I have imagined that I already learned many things blind people have to do without eyesight support, which would make my day run easier. I could only start imagining the turmoil of emotions and helplessness one feel being unable to perform mundane tasks without other people’s help, lacking their understanding and having to live a life limited in many ways. There are much more demands and many details in life of a blind person which would make a difference how easy or hard their day would be, those that the person with the sigh would not even give second thought to, such as where exactly to put a box of cereal or your keys, etc.
The experiment was very educational for me and helped me to see other people in different light while making me thankful for being able to use all my senses. I also resolved to adjust my attitude to disabled people I meet in my life and be more understanding of their needs.