The Best Thing That Has Ever Happened To Me


The Best Thing That Has Ever Happened To Me

      "Mr. Marvell, look at that guy." Bob said, pointing to one of several monitors arrayed across the front of their courthouse security station. Bob Weeks was a trainee; Marvell Brown was the shift supervisor and instructor.

     Marvell looked to the display indicated. The screen showed a busy intersection, traffic though not heavy as it can be at rush-hour, nevertheless vehicles were either moving straight on-or turning or were sitting at a red light and waiting their turn. He saw where Bob's finger pointed, a lone figure approached the crosswalk that would bring him across the intersection to the courthouse block. The man was using a long white cane.

     "Think we need to send someone out there to help him get across?" Asked Bob.

     "Naa." Said Marvell. "Just keep an eye on'm."

     Bob stared, entranced. "Man, poor guy. Being blind would be rough. What kind of a life could you have?" A moment later another pedestrian came up to the blind man, tried to take his elbow, wherein the blind man extricated himself, appeared to talk to the would-be-helper who then left. When the lights changed, the traffic flow made their adjustments and with arching long white cane the blind man made his crossing. Reaching the opposite curb, he turned and headed down to the front walk of the courthouse. Bob watched and as the blind man reached the steps leading up to the door to the courthouse, he said, "Look at that … he doesn't know there's the ramp right to his side."

     "Just watch." Said Marvell.

     Not slowing down, the blind man climbed the steps, angling his cane vertically, the tip striking the leading edge of each up-coming step until it swung out at the top.

     "There's the revolving door coming up!" Said Bob, getting concerned again.

     "Just watch."

     The blind man approached the door, paused slightly, found the edge of a moving door-section with his cane, and entered. Inside pace never slowing, cane tip seeming to seek out the edges of the strip of carpet, he walked down the center of the mat stretching away from the door across the marble floor into the building's interior.

     "He's going to run into that woman!" Bob referred to a woman who had stopped near the end of the rug and was bent over making some adjustments to the parcels she carried; her posterior toward the rapidly approaching and unsuspecting blind man.

     "Just watch." Marvell drawled.

     The blind man's forward progress didn't waver. The woman still stooping, dropped her purse. The blind man's cane found the dropped bag, swerving slightly, he reached down, picked up the bag and held it out toward the now flustered woman.

     Finishing his interaction with the woman, the blind man turned and walked toward the security station desk. "Marvell, hey man, how's it go'n?"

     "Morning Counselor. See you met the Assistant District Prosecutor."

     "Oh yeah." The blind man's grin told that his thoughts were more than what his words were saying. "I'm the defending attorney in the trial she's heading up to. It'll be interesting to see her reaction when she finds out that her adversary is the nice blind man who heard her purse drop and helped her out in the hall." A quizzical look coming over his features, obviously having picked up on another presence at the desk, he asked, "Working with someone today?"

     "I'm training a new guy, Bob. Working on his powers of observation." Glancing from the attentive trainee, gesturing to the blind man, "Meet Chad, attorney-at-law."

     The two men shook hands. "Bob, you have a good teacher here. Did you see the gent who wanted to assist me to cross the street?"

     "Huh, how'd you know I was watch'n?"

     "Counselor," Said Marvell, "I'm also trying to work on Bob's power of reasoning. Help me out here … this might be an odd question to put on you out of the blue, but tell Bob what you've told me about going blind."

     With another grin, the blind man said, "Sure Marvell, this will be interesting." Turning to the trainee, "Bob, with no more than what you've seen and you've heard, puzzle this one out … Could you believe me if I told you that going blind was the best thing that has ever happened to me."


e-mail responses to

**1. This is nice. I think it's a bid idealistic, and I also want to know what the blind lawyer was before he went blind--a homeless drunk? An internet porn addict? Some humans need a shock, a jar, to wake them up to full sentience--could be blindness, or the need to kill to survive, or the birth of a child... This is a nice example of a human who has woken and is becoming a human being.

Mark BurningHawK

**2. Funny. Very funny. Poor guy before he lost his vision had no life at all. Suddenly being blind does open a warehouse of services, economic training, and services which are not usually available to people. That law degree was probably paid for by a Commission or a Rehabilitation Service, the white cane training, etc. all came from blind services, and poof! A life on the edge is majestically transformed! That is one side of the coin of blindness. Turn the coin over however...and find people in positions of power, prestige, and privilege suddenly rooted out, friends vanishing, family betraying, opportunities disappearing under age-old prejudices, and long twilight struggles for the "light" to come back on: Day in-day-out, year-in/year/out struggles against the baser behaviors of a humanity desperately seeking their own levels of happiness? If that was the best thing that ever happened to our hero, I suggest he was incredibly abused, economically desperate, educationally deprived, and intellectually stagnant at the time of the blindness. But ...sigh...happy days are here again or here for the first time for our hero. I am so happy for him I could just sing all day.

Scott Wendell Bray, Ph.D.

**3. **6. I think that it's entirely possible for one to say that going blind was the best thing that ever happened, just as it would be possible for someone to say that losing a particularly lucrative job or getting dumped by the homecoming queen or some other seemingly awful thing turned out to be a wonderful blessing--all be it in disguise. … In my own instance, being blind had definite negative consequences for my life, and those consequences persist to this day--a longer commute, fewer choices about where to live, limitations placed on my career path (limitations placed there by others as well as by my own beliefs about what I can do, by the way)--all of these are negative consequences. On the other hand, I came from a relatively poor and uneducated family, and as a sighted person, I probably would have ended up following in the family's tradition of mediocrity. I probably would have gotten a factory job in Indiana, where I'm from, or maybe I would have joined the Army. As it happens, my parents, who made up with horse sense what they lacked in book training, pushed me very hard in academics. As a result, I was the first person in my family to make it through college. I graduated with honors, and I moved out and far away--to the big city, with big city opportunities. I ended up in Northern California, where I landed a good job and met a pretty girl who had the good sense to let me buy on our first date and the bad judgment to let me take her out again. She supported me on move after move, both up the professional ladder and across numerous state boundaries. I lucked into New Mexico, which leads the country in home births, just as we became new parents, thus all of my kids have been born at home, thereby saving my family and me from all the stress and risks of hospital births. Clearly, I'm digressing, but my point is that life dishes all sorts of weird, seemingly random events. I don't know if they're always random or not, and I probably never will know for sure whose in charge of my life. What I do know is that life ends up being what you make of it. Many silver platter blessings can be squandered, and anyone can squeeze lemons into lemonade. So Robert, I buy the statement about blindness, but that's not a result of blindness being a good thing. Rather, it's a statement about what each and every one of us can do if we're willing to see and pursue the silver linings, regardless of the clouds from whence they come.

Ron Brooks Phoenix, AZ ACB-L listserv

**4. It certainly took some time to consider how to respond. After all, we've all either read the books or seen the movies wherein someone claims to have had a profound life change once the alteration in physical senses had occurred. Yet, I know I've met many blind people, who swore to me that life had in fact improved since experiencing vision loss. I'd like to propose that it's not really vision loss which creates the improved change, but the honing in on what matters. Blind people, it seems to me anyway, have to do these things: stay focused; stay organized; set goals; make plans and stick with them (transit for example): self assess; reflect; analyze strengths; consider decisions/choices and more; and hundreds more that I'm certain anyone on this list could fill in. But these are all the things anyone should be doing anyway, and when it happens the way it should, life does get better. Sadly, for every blind person who takes hold the way our protagonist did here, there are probably many more who enter a downward spiral, despair and resignation fueling that downward flight. By the way, back in the days of my rather rebellious and misspent youth, people actually tried to counsel me about acquiring all the attributes necessary for making me a successful blind adult. Needless to say, I was having none of it, assuming as I did that they had no idea what they were talking about. Therefore, in memory of all those patient and forbearing counselors from back then - I finally get it, okay? And thanks for believing that a delayed reaction might take decades.

kat Guam

**5. There could be a lot of reasons a person would say that becoming blind is the best thing that ever happened to him. In this case, we know nothing about Chad's life before he lost his sight. It could be that he had no real career path and no opportunity to go to school. It might also be that he was an outgoing person with no means of meeting and talking with other people about things which were important to him. But, for whatever reason, losing his sight, having the opportunity to meet other people, through his blindness and teaching them about what it means to be blind, could be considered the best thing that ever happened to him. As an defense attorney, he has the opportunity to show people that they can turn their lives around and, with hard work, overcome whatever problems they have which put them in the position of needing a defense attorney. I've been blind all my life, so I can't really say that being blind is the best thing that ever happened to me; because it always was. But, I can say that I don't regret being blind. Oh yes, there are times when it would be easier to be able to see. But, those times are few. I have many more opportunities to meet people and talk with them about how I live as a blind person … answering their questions and teaching by example. In the case of my next door neighbor, seeing a blind couple live a full, happy life was therapy he never knew he'd need. But, he drew on what he learned over the years, when he lost his sight several years ago. Now, I believe he's an example to others. So, I think it could be said that being blind is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, PA

**6. In a message dated 9/2/2007 7:03:00 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes: "Mr. Marvell, look at that guy." Bob said, pointing to one of several monitors arrayed across the front of their courthouse security station. Bob Weeks was a trainee; Marvell Brown was the shift supervisor and instructor. I don't know if this was intentional on your part, but the name "Mr. Marvell," plus the fact that the blind man is a defense attorney, sounds a little like the Marvel Comics character Matt Murdock, aka "Daredevil," who is also a blind lawyer. (Personally, I think that's an absurd character, because it's an exaggeration of the old "compensation" myth.) "Think we need to send someone out there to help him get across?" Asked Bob. Bob, suggesting that the blind man "needs help," apparently needs glasses himself. How many times do you have to write scenarios like this before sighted people get the point? The blind man does not seem nervous. Neither is he walking with any kind of limp. Therefore, an observer can logically conclude that he is experienced in orientation and mobility. He's made it this far in downtown traffic without incident; why should he need help now?

On the other hand, when Mr. Marvell says, "Nah, just keep an eye on him," this could also reflect a lack of knowledge. It's as if he is saying, "Look at that blind man walk so fearlessly and effortlessly! What an amazing spectacle!" (Hence, the name "Mr. MARVELL.") I've seen a lot of people navigate with a cane. I know what it's for, and it's not necessarily a big deal. Yet Mr. Marvell reacts as if it's some kind of circus high-wire act with no net.
Bob (who obviously doesn't know any blind people, and probably never met a disabled person of any kind) wonders, "What kind of a life could [a blind man] have?" Well, apparently, this one has a rather contented life. It is said that godliness with contentment is great gain. What that means is, if you're behaving yourself, and you're satisfied with your lot in life, then you've got most of your needs fulfilled already. Just because the man is blind, that doesn't mean he isn't lively. Bob, however, is thinking of an old Hollywood cliché, in which blind people are portrayed as poor, gloomy, lonely people, listening to depressing violin music. Bob seems surprised to find a blind man who doesn't do that. Besides, I CAN see, and I DON'T have a life. Explain that, Bobby boy.

The pedestrian "helper" was thinking like Bob, not realizing that the blind man got this far without "help." (If I had a penny for every time somebody complained about this...!) "The blind man extricated himself" hints that he snatched his elbow somewhat indignantly from the "helper's" hand. "...who then left" seems to hint that the "helper" found this reaction rude. At least, that's the impression I get.

Bob, noticing the blind man climbing the stairs, says, "Look at that … he doesn't know there's the ramp right to his side." Again, more ignorance. I recall reading somewhere that blind people prefer stairs to ramps, because stairs have a clearer line of demarcation, and are therefore easier to navigate. Conversely, the angle of the ramp may actually make it uncomfortable to navigate, because the length of the cane, combined with the unusual angle, would have a disconcerting feel to it, since he is probably more accustomed to walking on a flat-but-level surface. (Then what about the stairs? They're on an angle, too; but even a single step is also level, so at least you have a better idea of orientation.) Does this sound right to you? I can almost picture it in my mind. And Besides, the ramp is actually supposed to be for wheelchair users. I recall Thought Provoker #102: "Assistance or Not," in which the blind woman hinted that she found it demeaning to use a wheelchair. Thus, the blind man would not use the ramp, because A) He could get along fine without it; and B) There could have been an actual wheelchair user on the ramp, and the blind man's presence might have gotten them both tangled up.

quote Bob's concern about the revolving door is also unnecessary. Admittedly, I would assume that a revolving door might take a little more practice than a regular door; but, I would also assume that you hold the cane close to the body, and simply push the door, just like anyone else. There's no need to feel the side wall, as long as you're touching the door. And, when using a revolving door, there is sometimes a slight-but-perceptible breeze coming from the lobby, when the door reaches the open side. You can feel the air conditioning in the summertime, or the heat in the wintertime, so you know you're in. The different texture of the floor is another hint. Bob has no logic about this at all.

"He's going to run into that woman!" Bob was actually justified in this concern. After all, a blind man almost walked into an empty elevator shaft...even using a guide dog (Thought Provoker #110: Pay Attention). Nobody's perfect. Even the most experienced navigator can have an accident. The question is, what does a sighted observer do? The first instinct SHOULD be to warn him. Conscience, and common human decency, demand this. If someone yelled "LOOK OUT!", then the blind man could react in three different ways: 1) He might rudely bark, "I can manage!" 2) He might say, "Thank you" (though with some embarrassment). or 3) He might offer no comment at all. It's all a matter of protocol, and the blind need to learn this as well as the sighted. Yes, the woman was "flustered." I've been to a courthouse, and there aren't a lot of cheerful people there. If something like this happens, one can only hope that the person isn't on trial.

So, Mr. Marvell is a security guard, huh? I used to be a security guard at E M C Corporation in Massachusetts. I didn't see any blind people there. Lots of grouchy people, though. Must've been the crummy coffee they had there. Oh, so the woman he had bumped into was the prosecutor? She was "flustered," he was not. This could knock her off her game, unless she settles down before she gets to the courtroom. The blind man hints that she didn't know he would be her adversary. Her reaction could also hinge upon how she herself perceives the disabled. Worst-case scenario: she is already upset over the collision; but what if she looks down her nose at the blind defender, as though he couldn't possibly do the job? If so, she's in for a shock. That would really throw off her concentration. Now, the security guard says that Bob is a trainee, working on "powers of observation." Well, I'd give Bob a grade of 50%. You see, "observation" is relatively easy: it's the first thing a security guard needs to learn. BUT! There's also a matter of LOGIC. After all, you might see something with perfect clarity, and still be clueless. Bob thought he understood what he was seeing, but he had no real evidence to back up his assumptions. (The legal term is "prejudice.") This would be a lesson to any blind man who is or wants to be a lawyer. In any legal case, you have to gather the FACTS, and reach conclusions. You have to be able to PERSUADE the jury and the judge of your analysis of the facts. You can do this without vision. You merely have to be a careful listener, have a good memory, and be able to sort out the facts. Anybody who reads a mystery novel (which has no pictures) knows this. Bob, therefore, has a lot more to learn as a security guard than mere "observation." He saw a lot of "facts," but all his conclusions were dead wrong. Case in point: While doing a patrol of an E M C building, I found a box full of CDs near a trash compactor. I thought somebody might have been trying to steal them. I asked a guy in a cubicle about it. He assured me it wasn't what I thought. "That? " he answered. "Oh, that's just packet data [or something like
that]. It's disposable. Those discs are worthless." My bad.

The blind man then informs Bob that he knew he was watching. "How did you know that?" Bob asks. Again, this is logical. If Bob is the "new guy," then he obviously doesn't know the blind lawyer dude. Furthermore, Bob's lack of understanding of blind navigation shows that he's rarely or never seen a blind person; certainly not one with a cane. Therefore, Bob would be expected to watch this "novelty" of a blind person walking around. All able-bodied people do this, until they learn to understand the disabled. I don't know a single able-bodied person who wouldn't do that.

Bob's "power of reasoning" (i.e. logic) is further tested by a statement seemingly out of left field. The blind man, asked to comment on his becoming disabled, says, "Going blind is the best thing that ever happened to me." Now, this would be shocking to an average person, and Bob certainly must be shocked, since he assumed that the blind don't have a "life." Now, since we don't know everything about the blind man, we could try a few assumptions: 1) Before going blind, he may have had another occupation he didn't like. After he went blind, perhaps he went to law school, and found satisfaction in that field. (I recall a true story about a diabetic who had been a film editor, and went into law practice after going blind.) 2) It is possible that he was rather lonely before going blind; but afterward found new friends and activities. Thus, he has more of a "life" now than before.

David Lafleche

**7. The eternal question, is the cup half full or is the cup half empty? Chad has chosen to make the most out of his life. But is his successful life due to his blindness? Chad might have said, "Graduating from law school was the best thing that ever happened to me". Or he could have said, "Being a white male born in America was the best thing that ever happened to me". Isn't it interesting that we humans like to single out one event and place so much importance on it? Chad is much more than a blind man. He is not only a collection of multi experiences, but also he is shaped by his heredity and personal well-being. Under different circumstances Chad might have said, "Losing my sight was the worst thing that could have happened to me". But was it? Blindness by itself is neither Best nor Worst. It just is. What we do with our lives, how we conduct ourselves, is the most important thing that can ever happen to us. For me personally, the best thing that ever happened to me? I was born in Spokane Washington on April 13, 1935. It doesn't get any better than that.

Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv

**8. Before I was blind, I had a wonderful and full life. After I was blind, I could heal people by praying for them. Amazing as it sounds, if the Lord offered me my vision back in exchange for His Healing Hands, I would turn Him down cold. However, I ask for the gifts and my vision so I can actually see what is happening to people I pray for. I can feel the presence of God at those times but cannot get any cues from the person being prayed for. There is never a single moment I do not wish I could see again- but the gift of healing others is a wondrous and awesome gift of God. The ministry would be much safer if I could see. As a young woman I prayed for said: "You see with perfect eyes and hear with perfect ears: You see the very face and hear the very voice of God Himself." It is an awesome privilege that I would not trade even for my eyes back. I believe I someday will be healed. I suggest that anyone who does not believe that God heals, contact Christian Healing Ministries in Jacksonville, Florida, at 904.765.3332 and ask for the bookstore. Then ask for the book by Dot Roberts about a mentally retarded boy who was healed at age 16 and now has 7 doctorates. That is one powerful book because the boy remembers how he was treated as a retarded boy and all the tears he shed. What his mind did not recognize, his spirit did, and the treatment was truly awful for any individual. Society has a way of making outcasts out of its disabled citizens. The book is not for the meek. And neither is blindness.

Dr. Scott Wendell Bray

**9. I describe my blindness as a gift given to me to help me reach out to others, and help me experience amazing things in life. While I am quite comfortable now as an older adult, the first 35 years of my life were pretty hard ones, where money was always an issue, and finding the right job and getting the right education was not always the easiest thing to do. But even through the tough times, I can't remember ever feeling put upon or unusually sad because of blindness. I can remember feeling and still feel at times, frustration at how unnecessarily difficult society can make my blindness, but in the main, for me blindness has been a wonderful gift given to me to use as a platform to reach and touch others, and see things I may never have seen had I physical eye sight.

Marlaina Lieberg ACB-L listserve

**10. To Me The point that I like to made on this one is. It seems we blind people most of us want to refuse help from people. We need to learn that person would feel more human if we allow person to help us. I know we want our freedom. We take pleasure from person whom want to help us. We can made that person day for them. We need to learn to consider other feeling beside our own. How do you fell when you help someone. I know it hard for us to give in allowing someone to help us. How can world learn from us when we refuse help. If we change our way maybe world will see us in different light.

Dexter Terry

**11. There are several things that we don't know about the guy that is the attorney at law. We don't know if he was congenitally blind to start with and we don't know whether he was a lawyer who had just gotten this job as a prosecuting attorney. Was he newly blinded and is it that he just got his blindness skills learned? We don't know these things. He really didn't do anything amazing and there wasn't any interaction between him and the female attorney. Otherwise, I guess it's just another day at the office.

John and Rita Klingman Nebraska USA

**12. I to feel the best thing that ever happened to me is going blind. I was three months early, As we called it premature. Who knows what they call it now, smile. The only thing I lost was my sight. I am in my second marriage, so two special men in my life love me for me. I have had several guide dogs to be able to get out and enjoy the cool on my face in the fall and spring. the cold for winter, and just hot for summer. I feel very special to be able to do all I can. Each new trial is just that. You cross each bridge as you come to it in life. the faith I have, is very strong, so this faith holds me up. to be able to ask questions if I don't understand something. And to get help if necessary. Enjoyed this article very much.

ACB-L listserv

**13. Since I was born with RP, I never had the experience of "going" blind. Blind, or near-blind, is what I always was. I really can't say it was the best, or worst, thing that happened to me. It's just part of who I am and how I live my life. If I did lose my sight, I wouldn't see it has a good thing. I'd think it sucks. We're all programmed to think it's a blessing, and we're courageous. We're not. We just do the best we can with what we've got, and for many, not even that.

Abby Vincent ACB-L listserv

**14. To Me, I love this scenario. It's wonderful when competent blind people do the educating. This is such a good scenario, but seems to drop off the edge of the earth with the last comment. The spin I put on it is that maybe the gentleman had trained for a better career with better quality life-style than he had when he was sighted. Thanks for all your work on this site.

Judy Jones

**15. It was very convenient to your story to make the lady drop her purse so as the blind man could avoid running into her. Besides, she didn't say a word: How did he know who she was? was it by the feel of her bag or her smell? Also, you didn't give us anything why becoming blind is the best thing it ever happened to me. I question this especially when it comes from those who have seen before. I can understand about those who have never seen before...You can't miss what you never had. But I know some who were born blind but wish very much they could see. I would be happy to hear if anyone could explain that becoming blind would be the best thing it could happen to anyone.

Yoseph Getachew NFB DeafBlind mailing list

**16. I don't think I can answer your challenge, however, I have seen people who, after becoming blind lived a more productive and less destructive life. Becoming blind gave them access to resources that they currently did not have access. I have also seen children who were lucky that they were blind because when the State pulled them from their home they could plop them down in a State school for the blind. If they were not blind they would have been shuttled around.

J. Michael Jones NFB DeafBlind mailing list

**17. "Bob, with no more than what you've > seen and you've heard, puzzle this one out . Could you believe me if I told > you that going blind was the best thing that has ever happened to me."

I have heard this from a couple of people.

I know that if he had been sighted, my husband would have been forced to drop out of school in H.S. and asked to support his family. Instead he was able to go to college and get his Masters and a career. I know what would happen otherwise because he has sibs.

(If you print this, leave my name out.)

**18. Everyone's got there own opinions and methods of dealing with things. Frankly, for me, it's the worst thing that's ever happened to me.


**19. If I had never become visually impaired I would have probably gone for my MSW and never written anything of worth. I'm trying to publish my novels but my articles have been published in 13 different periodicals both on and off line. I would have never done PR work or met all the wonderful people whose friendships I treasure in the Visually impaired world. See, there's always a positive in every situation.

Judith NFB Writers' Division mailing list

**20. Well, on just reading the story, I suppose that his positive answer is better than a negative one, but I have a little trouble with "Blindness is the best thing that has ever happened to me." I have been blind all my life and being blind is just a part of who I am. Some days, it is fine and some days, like last night, for example, when I knocked a bottle of expensive antibiotic medicine off the edge of the bathroom sink where my sighted 10-year-old son had left it without putting the lid on, blindness was truly a pain. I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out had I not been blind, but overall, I tend to have an attitude of seeing the glass half-full instead of half-empty.

Sherri from Orlando

**21. Penny Stevenson from Australia here. I really like the sentiments in this TP but found the writing near the end was quite sloppy so you lost the pace. It seemed that the question about his blindness had come out of nowhere... Just didn't read right.
But as to Blindness being the best thing... I have to say that I wouldn't give up my blindness for anything. I have met a lot of interesting people and had a lot of wonderful experiences. I get to work with a wonderful dog on a daily basis, I have learnt many alternate strategies to achieve my goals. Best of all you often end up front of long lines at tourist events... Like the Empire State building or even just in airport queues!

Penny NFB NABS mailing list

**22. What a great thought provoker! I thought it was funny where the person tried to grab his arm to cross the street. I had this happen last week and it was rather scary as this woman got a death grip on my arm and wouldn't let go even when I yelled. Very determined she was.

Anyway, my blindness is so much a part of me that I can't imagine anything else. It is a gift that let's me see clearly and I know it has brought lessons to my family as well. I am happy to live just as Creator made me. Some days I struggle with it, but I believe Creator knows best and he never makes a flawed model.

Sarah G ACB-L listserv

**23. There are days when I am positive that blindness is one of the greatest things that has happened to me. However, I also went through a year-long depression , in which I believed that becoming blind was the
worst thing that could have happened in my life. With all truth, becoming blind is sometimes the greatest and worst thing that has happened in my life. It all depends upon which day you asked me about it. Most days I rank being blind as inconvenient and life-altering as being short. There are times when I think of all the great people I have in my life because I am blind. Some of my best friends are those whom I met through the NFB. I cannot imagine a life without Priscilla, Tai, Yolanda, Nick, Terry, Brian, Al and so on. In many ways, I cannot imagine myself without having blindness be part of who I am, and in all honesty, I am proud and happy to be walking in the shoes I walk in. If I had not lost my sight, I would not be living the current life I'm living. For all I know, I may hate my life if I was still sighted. I really cannot say whether it was going blind, becoming part of the NFB, or meeting the people in my life - both blind and sighted- that has made the difference.

In summary, I cannot say I am ever surprised when someone says that going blind is the greatest or the worst thing that has happened in their life when there are days when going blind has been both the greatest and the worst for me. The quick message: it's all in what we make of our lives now. It may be going blind that provides the focus or determination to make the best of our lives.

My little rant.

Darrel Kirby NFB NABS mailing list

**24. I liked this particular one seemed a lot more realistic and one we can
probably relate to in one way or another.

I have a few thoughts that come to mind here. First, there's absolutely
no way that you'll convince me that blindness is a gift or "the best thing
that happened". That doesn't make any sense to me on any level. There's
nothing about that transaction that represents a gift. First lets look at
the travel. In 2007 the best we can do is swing a poll in front of us and
hope we come in contact with an object in time. Now it works, yes, it does
and cane travel has some up close advantages but people please, it's 2007,
there has to be a better way. (aside from putting my trust in to an animal
with it's own free will but the in ability to pick up after itself nor
communicate with me via English) Lets look at the blind man's travel V. a
sited person's travel. The blind man has to hope that he hears everything
correctly, hope that all the cars and trucks are audible, hope that there
aren't any sounds or distractions, and hope that he received mobility skills
good enough to serve his needs (which we can probably safely assume in this
example). The blind man has to contend with do gooder busy bodies who
violate his personal space with out so much as a word first. (again, anyone
who grabs my arm gets knocked out if they don't let go after repeated
requests) Then the blind guy has to figure his way through the doors and
hopefully along his prelearned route and what does he get for all this
trouble, hell he can't even take advantage of the free Ass shot from the
girl ahead of him. Tell me how that works out in his favor? Our sited
friend simply scans the area, takes in the entire environment, the parts of
the brain associated make the needed calculations (almost on an involuntary
level) and sited guy is across the street with out being violated and in to
scoop up on the free ass in line. Some gift! That's just getting in the
door, that doesn't take in to account any of the thousands of other things
that happens in that guy's day that are less clean and simple because of
blindness. I'm sorry but I think anyone who thinks that blindness is a gift
is just on the pipe!
It's important to say here that I don't believe that blindness is a
death sentence either and I want it very clear that I'm not saying that.
But there's no instance where a lack of vision is a positive thing or
benefit. Finally, for every Marvell in the world there's a billion Bob's and
that's not a good thing, or bad thing, it's just a pure exposure /
biological fact. Defective people (defective = disabled) just are not
attractive to the healthy. It's a basic biological fact. People form
couples for the purpose of child birth (I'm talking inner instinct here) and
as such disabled folks will be instantly removed from consideration before
it even hits the logical, conscious brain. This trickles down in to all
aspects of life and these snap decisions will apply. This totally makes
sense. Before we lived in a world full of do gooder, mis directed medical
droids we lived in a world where the weak would die and the strong would
live. (just as god intended hah) Blindness didn't exist because the
diseases would kill the children in many cases before leaving infancy. (not
always of course but more so than today) These children who should have
died now live and are tossed in to a biologically driven meat grinder, how
is that a gift? After a lot of reflection I really don't think it's going
to be all that possible to convince the sited population of the error of
their ways because their ways aren't in error. They are part of the
"intelligent design". The weak die, the strong survive, the wweak don't
produce and die off. I guess best put blindness isn't a gift it's rather a
challenge for us to overcome both as the blind individual (over coming by
being successful and going on with life) and over come by our species
(through technology and application of logic). So far, on average, we
aren't succeeding at either. Doesn't mean we stop trying though!

Scott Granados ACB-L listserv

characterization of my blindness. "Thanks Dad! So glad you think of a disability as the best thing that's ever happened to you! Where do we fall in the grand scheme of these life's blessings?"

Berry Levine ACB-l listserv

**26. When I lost my sight 18 years ago I certainly didn't think it was the best thing that happened to me. However I think I was more bothered about the idea of being deafblind then deafblindness itself. I didn't really know any independent deafblind people. I mean I'd heard of Helen Keller and I knew some deafblind people who also had additional disabilities due to rubella damage and I was afraid I'd end up like them. So I kind of went to pieces about it all. However I now accept my disability. Being deafblind is no big deal really. I've heard of people thinking that blindness was the best thing that happened to them before. If their lives as a sighted person were so miserable due to a much hated job then I can see that as being possible.
Whilst growing up my mum was unemployed. She did try to find work but nobody wanted to hire her as she had very poor people skills and many people were
prejudiced against her because she was French. She had mental health problems although she would never really admit it so naturally didn't claim, so got
a very low amount of money. I had to help her out financially as I got much more benefit money. People were also unsympathetic about the fact she didn't
know how to drive. I don't either but as I'm legally blind nobody expects me to. For all I know I might have ended up as a starving artist if I hadn't
become deafblind.

helene ryles

**27. Hi, this is Jesse Johnson. While I'm not totally without light vision, I'm sure I can't travel that well, but I have never had the privilege of really having my sight, I can truly say that perhaps the best thing that could have happened in my case is the fact that I am blind. Make no mistake about it I'm sure I would not have chosen to be blind, but I can certainly see blessings in the fact that I am. The direction I was headed in my younger life would perhaps have taken me into another kind of life which may have been very undesirable. However, I do not believe I would exchange the experiences I have with any other life. My friends are different, and I'm quite certain my goals are as well.

Regards, Jesse NFB blindkids mailing list

**28. What an inspiration, Jesse. I have a beautiful 6 year old daughter who is completely blind without light sensation and I can't tell you how many people (without thinking) sympathize and say, "Oh, the poor baby" or "With technology the way it is, maybe someday..." I just smile and tell them that I couldn't imagine her any other way and that she grew up thinking that everybody was blind. It is only within the last year that she is seeing herself as uniquely different. Her favorite story is the one where I tell her that out of all the Mommies in the world, God looked down and said, "Who could love this most precious, beautiful Arianna the most?" And He pointed down at me and it was at that moment that I became the luckiest and most blessed Mommy in the world. I mean it when I say that I wouldn't want her any other way. She has taught me so much about the world, about life--things I haven't been privileged to see previously despite having 6 other children. She is my daily inspiration and one of the reasons each day is considered a celebration of life. Thanks for sharing your story, Jesse. I can so relate as a third person.

Janice NFB Blindkid mailing list

**29. To Me I don't know what to say about this one. It does sound like Bob got quite an education here. And most of us, I suspect, have been in a position to provide such an education and I, for one, am pleased to do it. But saying that blindness was the best thing that ever happened to me? Quite questionable. I suppose it has helped me have more rational values, I don't judge so much on looks, for example, but I still have to learn to live by the world's values, where looks are extremely important, so I don't think so. Also, I was born blind, so I can't compare what it was like to be sighted to my present blindness.

Mark Tardif

**30. Sure, I can see how going blind could be considered a good thing. Blindness has made my life safer. I was able to avoid the costs and risks associated with driving. I was able to avoid injury by avoiding football, basketball, and baseball in high school. The draft and the Vietnam conflict added no stress to my life. The economic advantages are tremendous. I don’t waste money chasing a little, white ball around a course every weekend. The cost of gasoline is not my concern. I won’t be buying one of those high definition television sets. And best of all, the government sends me free money every month. I don’t waste time looking in the mirror and wondering if I really look my age. Pretty women do not distract me. I don’t have to mow the lawn or paint the house. While it may have not been the best thing to ever happen to me, it was an important event. The advantages of being blind are truly without number. It’s too bad that I didn’t contract polio as a child. I can only imagine what a blessing that would have been.


**31. I honestly don't think it is possible for a totally sighted person to believe that a person who lost his sight would say that. Granted, I don't know every sighted person, but the general consensus seems to be that going blind is the worst thing that could ever happen. Being visually impaired, I always wondered about that. Why do they think that? Wouldn't going deaf be worse than going blind? Wouldn't being confined to a wheelchair be worse than going blind? Since I've always been visually impaired it is normal to me. I can't really imagine what it is like to be totally sighted. If I had to guess why Chad feels that way, I would say it is because it makes it easier for him to do his job. You can learn a lot of things about a person and his or her state of mind by listening to the tone of voice. If you can't see what a person looks like that takes away one level of prejudice. As far as everyday like goes, it makes you notice things more, I mean, you have to in order to to move through the world. It should have also helped Chad sort out his priorities. Maybe he became more spiritual. There are so many things that could prompt someone to say that, it's hard to speculate without knowing the person better. I believe him though.

Gina Bunting

**32. I once knew a blind man who clamed that his blindness was the best thing that had ever happened to him. He used to be a gang member and was shot. He said that at first he was bitter, but later after going through a center for the blind and adjusting to his blindness, he had a totally different outlook on life. He said that his blind eyes could now see how narrow and negative his earlier view of the world had been. I think he didn't like being blind, but he like not being caught in that gang world.

This is one case that I can see that makes the title statement a true one.

Charles Backenhorse

**33. I am blind, proud and powerful in my skills and determination. I say that this is strickly a result of my being blind. I say t this because it singles me out of the crowd. People have tried to make my blindness something special, but not in a good special way. At first when they did this to me I didn't know better and went with it, though unknowingly. After I joined the NFB I learned about being a person who was blind and gained awareness of how I can be blind and proud and now I am. I was born blind and it is who I am and I accept it and am defined by it and so I am what this story paints.

Bob Starter

**34. Wow. Barry L, you make a very good point. I, too, cannot quite wrap my mind around calling my blindness "the best thing" or even a "blessing." Sorry, but it just isn't. Sometimes, it is a "blessing", if we pass a horrible wreck or a dead animal on the road and no one says anything, I didn't see it, thereby feeling horribly sad, either. However, if I need to go somewhere or read something or determine from where my dog is bleeding or find the dog who is lost, and can't because I'm blind and no one is around to do the sighted thing, then quite frankly, it is a royal pain in the. Well, whatever it is a pain, but it very sure is not a blessing. And the best thing that has ever happened? Well, many things have happened that have been very good but they cannot be so easily determined as this one is best, this is second best, third best. Any more than the bad things that have happened can be determined as worst, second worst, 3rd worst.

Jessie ACB-L listserv

**35. could this story fall under the current Thought Provoker?

Peace Luis


Man Overboard: Dwayne Adams Philadelphia Weekly Online, USA Tuesday, May 02, 2006

By Steve Volk

One man's quest to make athletes out of city kids started with a gunshot. Dwayne Adams needed to decompress, so he sat down on the steps outside the house he shared with his mother and took the last remaining breaths of his old life. The sight of young men gathering at the corner near the 3200 block of Park Avenue didn't trouble him. His first thought when he heard the crack of gunfire and felt himself thrown down on his right side was that someone had struck him with a baseball bat. He couldn't open his eyes, but under his right elbow he felt the rough concrete of the sidewalk, and instinctively started crawling toward safety. He had no way of knowing it at the time, but he was also on his way to Italy, to Spain, and to a life revolving around the steady beat of oars striking water. Today, nearly eight years later, 46-year-old Dwayne Adams has inscribed his name in the annals of competitive rowing. He's also founded Breaking Barriers, a nonprofit that will soon put city kids into rowing sculls. "I like my life now," says Adams. "I would never have done all these things if I hadn't been shot." In his previous life Adams worked at Comcast as a customer service rep manning the phones, and hoped to be named a supervisor. "I worked every day," says Adams. "When I was off, I went to movies. I went to clubs. There were some girls I dated. I had an average life." The bullet that struck him was fired during a shootout between warring drug gangs. It destroyed one of his eyes entirely and rendered him legally blind in the other. To this day Adams can make out only vague shapes, as if he's perpetually staring out from behind a steam-fogged shower door. His sense of smell is
gone, and he can taste food only intermittently. "When I can taste," says Adams, "I make sure to eat." About five months into his recovery Adams learned about the adaptive rowing program run by Philadelphia Rowing for the Physically Disabled, and quickly found a sense of purpose.

"What makes Dwayne special is his commitment to be successful," says his first coach Paul Gordon. "He was willing from the very beginning to put in the hours it took." "I think getting shot, in a way, gave me a sense of urgency I never had," says Adams. "I was living an okay life. But I didn't have the foundation to be successful." But after months of working out and practicing from the first hours of morning straight through till evening, Adams made the national rowing team. Today he's an athlete in sunglasses-long and lean with a shaved head and an easy grace to his movements. "I think he did a lot to put adaptive rowing on the map, nationally and internationally," says Gordon. "When people saw there were athletes like Dwayne competing, they realized it was okay to take this seriously." People often equate athletic competitions for the disabled to exhibitions, but the heats can be intense. The Oscar-nominated documentary Murderball captured that world best, showcasing the rough play and driven personalities of wheelchair rugby players. Rowing with teammates who'd suffered spinal cord injuries and other ailments, Adams became good enough to make America's national team. He competed at events in Milan, Italy, and Seville, Spain, and even took his mother along. "To be able to do that for her," says Adams, "was very special for me."

**36. Another good one. The only minor quibble I have is that we don’t know what was going on in Chad’s life before the onset of blindness which might have made him utter this statement, but then I think this is what partially drives this discussion,.

For my part, I don’t know if blindness was necessarily the best thing that ever happened to me since I have been blind since birth. My wife disagrees with me on this as she believes that my having had light and color perception for the first fourteen years of my life did not make me a blind person. I point out that since our local school officials tried to get me to go to a school for the blind when I was six, and since I never could read print, I guess this made me blind in most others’ eyes (no irony intended here.)

I will say that going totally blind at fourteen removed for me all the ambiguities. It’s the before and after mindset, really. Before, there always seemed to be the possibility that the sight I had would somehow be increased; that I would wheel around the streets of our small town the same way other kids did on their bikes. The after was when the eye surgeries clearly didn’t work. I’d always read Braille, and I’d been traveling with a cane since I was nine, even though there were times that I thought my sight should have permitted me a little more laxity where this was concerned. I missed the sight I did have for a while, but I can honestly say that it was not devastating. I’ll also say that it took me years to realize why I was pretty cool about the whole thing, or rather I didn’t have the words to express myself on the issue before. But when I reflected on it recently, I truly believe it helped me to get on with life and to accept things as they were always going to be. If I’d always read Braille, if I’d traveled with a cane in the past, if I had to learn in different ways than my sighted peers, and if there was virtually no change in my situation between the before and after except that I couldn’t watch the fireworks on the fourth of July anymore, then there was no reason that total blindness should be more of a tragedy or more limiting on my life than not having ever had enough sight in the first place to do things like read print, drive, fly a plane.

And so I got on with life. I found out in April of 1979 that I was totally blind today, tomorrow and forever. In May I went to my cousin’s wedding. In June my band and I played a bluegrass festival. Later that summer I started getting more serious O & M to learn how to use a cane in our school building. The day after I turned fifteen my father told me my grandfather had liver cancer and was dying. We lost him four days later. We also lost another relative and a family friend right around Christmastime from massive cerebral hemorrhages, and in March of 1980 we learned my mother’s mother was also dying of cancer. She eventually died several months later, just a week before Reagan was first inaugurated and the hostages freed from Iran.

Meanwhile because of these troubles I took refuge in my music, joined another band, had appendicitis over Easter weekend in 1981, played in bands virtually every weekend, resigned from a radio show I had. Our band broke up, I joined another one which was very popular for a while, and that band broke up too. I had some fallings-out with some friends, I graduated high school, went on to college, took a year off and played once more in possibly the greatest band I’d ever had the pleasure to be in, went on to law school, lived and worked in New York City for a total of seventeen years, went to Poland for a friend’s wedding, saw about ten or twelve different friends and relatives die in the course of one year, was there in New York City when the towers fell, got married, moved to Minnesota after resigning from my job, and am now in the midst of trying to figure out what to do next. All in all, I’d say that while blindness has certainly helped to shape me into the person I am now, there is so much more to my life than just the fact of my blindness as I hope I’ve demonstrated. There’s my wife, my friends, family, my love of music, history and politics, my appreciation for good books, my taste in foods, my very memories and experiences themselves.

There are rather few black and white delineations in my book. But while it sounds cliché to say that life is what you make it, I believe it’s also largely true. Martha Washington, I believe, probably said it close to the best that I’ve heard in some time: “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.

John D. Coveleski, Minneapolis, MN

**37. A lot of truly great things have happened to me, but if I had to pick one it would be my involvement with Center for Independent Futures. CIF is an Illinois-based nonprofit that works in community settings to create living options for people with disabilities. The founders of CIF, all parents of people with disabilities, found that they and others were not receiving the proper services from the state. So CIF was created as an alternative to state services. Anyway, I am currently the only member of CIF who is totally blind and I've had to demonstrate to people how I go about my daily routine. For example, I was recently hired as an administrative assistant for CIF. I went to their office and installed a screen reader on two computers. Today at work, my job coach and I labeled a few things in the office with my Braille label maker. I had previously worked with this person and she sort of knows Braille, but I think any opportunity to educate people on what those of us who are visually-impaired can do, is a good one. I am also doing other things at CIF to educate people about various aspects of blindness. One more thing before I close. I think it's an absolute necessity for state VR agencies to come up with some way of educating people better in the skills of blindness. Furthermore, I think it is wrong for VR agencies to have a "one-size-fits-all," or "either-you're-blind-or-you're-not" attitude. The reason for this is simple. There are many different types of people in the world, and this includes people with varying degrees of vision loss. Nobody learns things exactly the same way and that's perfectly fine. One thing I really like about Center for Independent Futures is that they don't embrace a "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude. Life does not work that way and I don't believe it ever will. To learn more about CIF, please visit

Jake Joehl, Evanston, IL