Some get it. Some don’t. Granted, learning to navigate the public transit systems around Atlanta can be difficult the first time for a sighted person. For my newly developed super power known as low vision, said public transit, becomes that much more difficult. Still, this past week, I had a goal – make it to my eye rehab appointment in Smyrna on public transit...by myself.
When you have lived your life with the freedom to get in your car and drive wherever – whenever you want to, having a change in vision can be like getting chained up on a leash. Suddenly, your freedom is hindered. It is not that I don’t want to accept help from others, it is about freedom. Public transit systems become a means of reclaiming freedom – independence can be returned. Some get it. Some don’t.
It is not whether one has family and friends who can drive you about. It is a matter of being able to go wherever – whenever you want. I found that sense of accomplishment on Tuesday. I “got it” and so much more.
Along the journey, I was the recipient of acts of kindness and I had the opportunity to return the favor to others. I saw Jesus in others, in strangers, and the encouragement of friends. I also got to discover my definition of a crowd had changed. Where my definition of a crowd used to be a group of people shoulder to shoulder in numbers of the hundreds and thousands, crowds for me can be 10- 20 people!
But transportation was only part of the day. At Vision Rehabilitation Services, I discovered an incredible group of people committed to helping people like me with low vision and blindness. It was the most empathetic environment, one that celebrated our victories with us and is there to assist us overcome or cope with the next challenge.
I got to put my hands on magnifiers and technologies at no charge to determine what might work best. I had the chance to ask questions, not about treatments, but about everyday; what do I have to look for with my vision? I learned that my vision does, in fact, fatigue when I read over time even with assistance. My experiences of stepping on my cat, bumping into door frames and desks, and losing balance on uneven terrain is to be expected.
What I also need is the opportunity to make it on my own. I have to adapt. I have to work on new habits that will benefit me long term. I will welcome your offer to help but I do not need you to assume I need help and step in. Ask me first. If you have offered, please understand, I am not turning away from help when I choose to do things on my own. I do it on my own because I can and, for my own self-esteem, I need to do it, I must do it, and I will do it.