When I lost my sight at the age of 9, I was totally shocked and confused. I didn’t know what was happening around me and what kind of future I was heading to. All my family-members, relatives and neighbors were deeply worried about my future. They all thought that with my sight gone, my door to the outside world was shut forever. Everybody thought that I would have to spend the rest of my life depending on others for help. All those who came to see me sympathized with me and I became the mouthpiece of everybody in the neighborhood. It was really a terrible experience. I lost the ability to do many things which I used to do easily when I had sight. My hopes and dreams all collapsed at once. But after I went to school, I slowly began to see the beauty of my new world and discovered my own strengths. I gradually regained my confidence to live a normal life with others and I got back my smiles that had vanished along with my sight. . Today, I am a happy person despite of being deprived of the opportunity to see the physical world with my own eyes. Although I have lost my sight, I have got the vision of my life. My disability is actually supposed to limit my freedom and choices to enjoy the real beauty of this life, but as I grew up, I began to see in it many advantages instead. Following are some of the advantages of being blind I have come to understand based on my own personal experiences:
1. I have realized that as visually impaired persons, we don’t easily get distracted by negative developments around us and as a result, we tend to develop higher level of concentration. In the absence of outlets for visual distractions, I have realized that we can focus on what we do or what we say with a greater level of concentration than many sighted people. People say that God has given us sixth sense which is not right. The fact is that we have learned to use the remaining four senses more effectively and sharply. Some friends of mine have even told me that I should be happy as a visually impaired person, because I don’t have to see the ugly part of this world which they cannot avoid. This makes me feel even happier.
2. Many people wonder why do we seem to have good memory. I feel that having to be always mindful of what we do or where we keep our things, we tend to sharpen our memory. Memorizing basic things everyday such as where we have kept our mobile phone, whether or not we have switched off the electrical appliances or where we had kept our white-cane the previous night, all help us develop a good memory. The sighted people do not necessarily have to memorize all these things because they can easily turn around to see where they have kept their things, but for us, a good memory is an integral part of our daily life. I hope aging does not affect this great gift of God. Otherwise, we would become like squirrels- that collect and store nuts during winters for future stock and later forget where they had hidden more than half of the nuts. LoL!
3. Another advantage of being blind is that we get to develop good public relations with others. We have higher chances of meeting only good people because whenever we lose our way or struggle with something and cry out for help, only kind-hearted people would come forward to help and in the process, we can develop friendship with only good people. Bad people will never be concerned about us and hence, we don’t get to deal with them.
4. I have also realized that as a blind, we develop better communication skills because we get to deal with many people from all walks of life. We can easily focus on how people talk and interact without being distracted. We may miss the nonverbal cues but we can easily tap the underlying messages of what has been said through the tone, intonation and even the volume/pitch of the speaker’s voice. I think this makes us more sensitive and responsive.
5. We also tend to develop problem-solving skills because as visually impaired persons, we have to keep thinking creatively and innovatively all the time to adapt ourselves in different environments. We have to figure out our own solutions to various problems we face under different circumstances and for that, we have to keep thinking. I think such mental exercises increase our problem-solving skills in the long-run.
6. Finally, the simple, yet very big advantage: the ability to navigate comfortably in the dark. Electricity hardly fluctuates in Bhutan and lights go off very rarely. But when they do especially at night, we the visually impaired persons become smarter than the sighted people. Many a time, I have successfully helped my wife and children move around in the house and locate the candles when the lights suddenly went off. Take me to the darkest tunnel of the world, I can even guide you safely to the other end with my white-cane. This is the biggest advantage, I should say. We don’t suffocate in the dark. During the day, I can comfortably move around with the help of my white-cane, and even during the night, I have no problems navigating around.
So although I have lost the privilege of seeing the world with my own eyes, I am absolutely happy with what I have got. Over the years, I have learned to love myself and appreciate my inner strengths God has blest me with. Instead of grieving over the loss of opportunity to see the spectacular beauty of the world around me, I have learned to paint the world with my own colors and make it beautiful. I have no regrets over the loss of my sight. In fact, I consider it a blessing in disguise. I lost only my sight, but I got many other blessings in return. I still have two hands to work, two legs to walk, a mouth to talk and brain to think for myself. So, what else do I need to have? I feel I have everything I need to have a meaningful life in this woarld. I don’t mind even if some people can’t fully accept us in the society, because I know that’s not our problem, that’s their problem. So, I have no reasons to worry. No matter what comes my way, I believe that I should keep doing, keep going and keep dancing to the rhythm of my life. This is how I define my world.