Monday, October 21, 2013


I walked the length of Dawson Park today. The round trip took nearly an hour. The weather was perfect and I thought that I should do this more often, since the walk in the park is a clear path, extremely easy to follow with a white cane. In fact, I would do it more often if only it were a little easier to get into the park. The problem is not distance. I live a few dozen yards from the trailhead, but the path through those few dozen yards is extremely difficult for a blind person to navigate. Anyway, I had completed most of the walk and was just beginning to worry that I might get lost going home when a jogger approached from behind and slowed to my pace. Don’t be proud, said a small voice inside me. “If he offers to help you get out of the park, let him do so. Be careful not to brush him off. “Hello,” he said. “Hello,” I said. “I have a question for you,” he said. “What is it?” I said. “Well, you’ve probably never been asked this before, but, well, you seem to be a bit blind,” he said. Don’t brush him off too quickly, warned the little voice inside me. Cut him some slack. He probably hasn’t had a course in discussing the degrees in vision in appropriate language. Agree with him. That will keep the conversation going. “A bit blind,” I agreed, managing a small smile, hopefully inviting but not fake. “Well, I was just wondering if you ever thought of any spiritual treatment for that,” he said. Don’t brush him off, cautioned the little voice inside me. This may not be the time to tell him that your blindness has persisted for sixty years, despite the fact that hundreds of strangers have approached you offering you salvation. “I have a satisfying spiritual life,” I said. “Okay,” he said, and hurried away in the direction of the parking lot. Did he actually leave? I shall never know, but I didn’t hear any cars starting. I couldn’t shake the suspicion that he was watching me from a distance as I struggled to look competent while I threaded my way awkwardly home through the maze-like configuration of paths, curbs, gravel patches and lawns. Could it be that I still have a few things to learn about effective communication? Next time, maybe, just maybe I will be smart enough to say, “I have a satisfying spiritual life, but would you mind giving me an arm to help me out of this park?”

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