It can be a bit boring, my visual impairment. At least as my condition remains stable. All dark on the left, light-sensitive and unclear and peripherally compromised on the right. At worst, the junior high stage crew runs the lights for the scenes of my life. At best, it’s as if a dedicated, seasoned local theater volunteer throws my optical switches. That’s life.
Why can’t disability be more sensational? It would be awesome if we could choose visual disabilities featuring the soft lighting and pleasing angles of Annie Leibovitz photography. I dream.
One summer my optics delivered a dazzler. For a few months due to extra light distortion, I acquired Impressionist Vision. At least that’s what I called it. Places full of many pieces–seats in an auditorium, cars in a parking lot–became blobs of mottled color. By considering my vision in the style of my favorite artists though, it distracted me from the uncertainty of my medical condition. Whatever works, right?
One afternoon after an additional surgery, I sat on the warm brick steps of my porch. I held my cell phone to my ear, listening to my dad. He asked about my current visual acuity. I stared into the grass and tipped my head in thought.
“Well. It used to look like waves of green, maybe some yellow.” I said, “but today it’s like I can kinda see…individual blades again.” We both fell silent. A tear rolled down my cheek. After a few moments, my dad praised the improvement. I’m pretty sure I heard a sniffle alongside the support.
After things stabilize, it becomes routine to live with a visual disability. Your get used to what your eyes and brain perceive. And, better yet, it’s possible to be grateful for the things like rude gestures you miss. Boring or interesting, I don’t take my vision status for granted. Meanwhile, perhaps the future in science will reveal artisan retinal cells. Creativity requires imagination.
If you could gain a tailored disability, what would you create? Symmetrical and vibrant Wes Anderson redecoration in sight? The calm zone of underwater hearing? The Willy Wonka version of taste? The world could be at your fingertips with an acquired disability. Tell me about it.