On the Bright Side

When the call went out for entries for a disability blog carnival having to do with “a few of my favorite things” I must admit that I scratched my head. Then I scratched my head again. Sometimes I can just sit and scratch for indecent amounts of time.

The call for blog posts having to do with one’s “favorite things” didn’t suggest that one had to write about disability, and yet I persisted with my scratching because (of course) "my favorite things” becomes a far more challenging and complex topic when filtered through the grinder of disability.

It’s not so easy to sing like Julie Andrews about the simple pleasures of puppies and snow on one’s eyelashes when the electric wheelchair is unable to get through the unshoveled crosswalks or the dog guide user is told that she or he can’t come into a restaurant though the law permits guide dogs everywhere. For me, the daily remembrance that people with disabilities remain marginally employed in the United States is sufficient to keep me from singing like Maria von Trapp.

Still its possible to say with honesty that there are beautiful dimensions to living life with one or more disabilities, and it remains important for people with disabilities to say so.

Of course I can’t speak for the entire dairy industry—I can’t even speak for the cheese makers. I certainly shouldn’t be read as a spokesperson for all blind or visually impaired people. And with that cautionary rubric out of the way, here are a few of my favorite things about blindness:

  • The Dogs.  Guide dogs are wonderful companions and the people who
    raise and train them are the salt of the earth and that’s my story and
    I’m sticking to it. The community that makes up the guide dog universe
    is a shining example of the very best in community values.
  • Casual Conversations with Total Strangers.  Like most blind
    people who travel widely I have amazing conversations with people in
    the daily rounds of going places. There was the cab driver in New York
    City who was from Somalia and he told me about his daughter who was
    deaf and about his efforts to bring her to the United States. There’s
    the casual and lovely talk with strangers who want to help me navigate
    in foreign places. There are lots of Good Samaritans in this world.
    Sometimes I think that perhaps blindness shows these people to me.
    Again, I can’t speak for the entire dairy industry.
  • Major League Baseball treats me very well when I go to the ballpark.
  • I love assistive technologies and this is a great age to
    live in if you’re blind. If you haven’t done so lately,visit the
    website of Freedom Scientific and see the great array of blind friendly
    gizmos offered by just one assistive technology company. There are
    hundreds of other assistive technology manufacturers “out there” and
    I’m just mentioning Freedom Scientific right now because I use their
    products daily.
  • Sports on the radio.  You really can’t beat it. And while I
    now teach at the University of Iowa and they might not like it if I say
    this, the best radio announcers in college football are on the Ohio
    State Buckeyes radio network. Go Bucks!
  • Hotdogs taste better when you’re blind. I can’t explain this. They certainly look better.
  • I have had the opportunity to work with men and women from
    around the world to establish a better understanding about the real
    lives of people with disabilities. And yes, this is a period of
    remarkable globalization in the disability communities.
  • No one can complain if I walk into the Ladies Room.
  • I’m not bothered by ugly contemporary art.
  • I love to hear my wife, Connie, laughing and that goes for my stepkids, Tara and Ross, as well. They have great laughs.

I could go on and on of course. I will merely close by saying that my
hours are made the richer by music. From Enrico Caruso to Bob Marley,
from Puccini to P Diddy, I get around.

S.K.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

0 thoughts on “On the Bright Side”

  1. Thanks for adding this to the carnival.
    I’ve also noticed that casual conversations with strangers happens to me. It’s a gift to experience the kindness of strangers and share conversation with them in a way that might not otherwise take place.
    If I were making such a list, I’d definitely add racing in a wheelchair to it!

    Like

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