In The Land Of The Bling, The One-Eyed Man Is King

Roses are black

Violets are black

Everything is black

I can’t see.

This was a Tumblr post on today’s dashboard. Tagged with #that’s…so sad

I listened to a radio spot a while back featuring two men with adult-onset blindness and their methods for constructing reality. So fascinating. One relied on a lifetime of visual consumption to brain-photoshop the passing of time. He could clearly describe his wife’s face, the park down the road, what changes his mother was making around the house. Mature sensibility–having lived well into his 20s as a seeing person–empowered him with the ability to see the world age as it truly did. It didn’t pause, didn’t freeze when his eyes quit. He experienced every wrinkle, every falling leaf. I mean this literally: he animated the images burned into the darkness of memory with what he understood about time. His wife laughed, he saw lines forming on her face with each passing year. He stopped seeing her as young when she stopped being young.

The other adopted a surprising discipline. He trained himself to forget what his wife and children looked like. Over 40 when he went blind, he forced himself to not touch anyone’s face for some amount of time, at the end of which he claims he was able to erase all visual memory of them.

Then he recreated reality. His family exists to him in relative-specific emotion waves. He’s developed anticipatory participation in the absence of visually-stimulated interaction. A simple example: Preblind he walks into a room and sees his daughter crying. He reacts with concern, offers her a hug. Standard.

Now he steps to the door and feels waves of sadness. He can’t remember her face, so he doesn’t imagine her red nose or tears on her cheeks. He touches her door and feels her heart hurting. He absorbs it, takes a deep breath and steps into the room after the moment he realizes she’s in pain. He claims this moment is the magic. He hears her pain, irons out his sadness at her pain, and receives her with clarity. His family claims he always approaches them the right way, without having any normal, readable signal.

I’m hosting my first Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow. Today was prep day–I donned an apron I never use, tuned Spotify to Carlos Vives, and got to f*cking up my kitchen. My daydreaming at full throttle, I spent most time decorating my future famous-author self’s master bedroom’s writing cove (I’m mostly pondering, gazing at the angry water pounding the cliffside). But the turkeyday spice cabaret had hold of the atmosphere, and so my mind wandered to tomorrow’s toast.

I had this Thanksgiving’s toast in the bag. I have a new baby, for pete’s sake. Who’s more thankful than a new mommy? Easy Peasy.

But now, having read that poem and being reminded of that story, I get to get more out of this. I’m thankful for so much. Not least being able to embrace and have an intimate relationship with my imagination. What a glorious, mind-blowing adventure imagination is.

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