Warriors and wimps by Trevor Plumbly
Somebody remarked that when you’re blind you are ‘one step away from the edge of the world’. It sounds a bit dramatic, but for those of us who faced sight loss somewhat late in life there’s a fair bit of truth in it.
It’s not just tripping over the stuff that you swear somebody left in the way, there’s the mental hurdles: disbelief, adjustment and final acceptance are pretty tough to absorb, along with having to convert once instinctive actions into calculated steps. Coping is, of course, the key, and I reckon there are two approaches to managing that.
When it comes to coping, this approach is to be most admired, or feared! Proponents of this method, aka warriors, are intensely gregarious; a simple, ‘How’s things?’ can lead to an outpouring of their latest exploits. Nothing as mundane as sight loss fazes these folk; they run, skate, climb, jump out of aeroplanes and do all sorts of outdoor stuff. Those warriors that don’t do the physical, dwell in a cyber-world largely unexplored by those of retirement age, words like ‘gigs’, ‘Instagram’ and ‘malware’ pour from them like biblical utterances from a revival preacher. It is safer not to bandy words with these people, theirs is a foreign tongue best left to the fluent. Both of the above alternatives substantially limit my conversation and to avoid social inferiority, number 2 below is my best bet
For me, read wimp. We wimps are the drones of the blind world, post-sight education relies heavily on repetition, and stoics trundle through it, unbloodied by physical harm or digitally induced dementia. We are masters of our own destiny, sheltered by good old-fashioned fear. My experience has shown that outdoor pursuits require a confidence that I simply don’t possess. Twitter and Snapchat are, no doubt, 21st Century, but I’m a 77 year old dog and new tricks aren’t quite as appealing as the old ones. So, I cope, tucked away in the armchair with good music, a book and the odd beer, happily leaving the challenges and frustrations of life to those who thrive on them.