On Independence

Happy Fourth of July to all of my US readers! And folks outside of this country are certainly welcome to celebrate with us as well, if you wish. Little to no excuse is needed for a party, right?

By its very nature, this day always makes me think of and assess my own state of dependence/independence. Interdependence is truly what it is, for no man or woman functions entirely separate from all others. I think this has already been a banner year for me in that regard, though.

I so often feel fortunate to live in the era that I do. I’m reading a fictionalized account of the esteemed Laura Bridgman, called What is Visible, by Kimberly Elkins. Bridgman attended Perkins School for the Blind (then it was known as Institute) in the mid 1800’s. As you probably know, she was both deaf and blind, as well as lacking a sense of smell and taste.

The story paints a rather harrowing picture of her life, from the degree to which her destiny was controlled by others to the longing and loneliness she often felt. I hope for her sake that much of the events that were portrayed were a bit overdramatized, but who knows.

She and her blind cohorts rarely had chance to leave that facility, spending much of their time attending exhibitions to be shown off to other dignitaries, and receiving what little education was available to them. Braille was just coming onto the scene in Europe, but instructors at the Perkins Institute, most notably its director Samuel Gridley Howe, known as “Doctor” to most, did not accept this as a learning tool. Rather, they had to read things produced in raised print, which I suppose is doable but probably quite cumbersome.

As stated though, the thing I would have found the most challenging would be not being able to move around much on my own. As I discovered when writing for White Cane day, blind folks didn’t even start to gain this ability till the early 30’s. And even then, I doubt they were doing a whole lot of wandering.

Me? I’m kind of crazy! Especially with the advent of GPS and ability to key in an address and learn tons about it before attempting to venture out, I’m likely to just take off and go to somewhere even unfamiliar. The main questions I have to cope with are: what does the bus stop look like? Will I have to cross any busy streets? How likely is the weather to hold up for me? The street crossing issue is still and will likely always be my biggest impediment, but I’m hoping that tech will soon at least mitigate that someday. I wouldn’t put myself among the most savvy blind navigators, but maybe I’m a bit above average, at least. My underperforming hearing will continue to present its own challenges.

With regards to the connectedness/loneliness thing, I think this is the biggest reason I am glad to be among “normal” society. Even dragging myself to and from this job helps me to remain part of my community and not just sit in this apartment passing time. Additionally, I think I spend so much time getting coffee at Dunkin Donuts that I may have caused them to lower the price of that beverage during “Happy Hour,” which I’d guess is from 4-7. Finally, I am happy to have someone who enjoys walking this road with me, who helps me and whom I try to help.

So, those are just some of my disjointed thoughts on this day in which this country celebrates its often not lived up to ideals. I suppose it’s always an effort though, and one worth continuing; to strive for the betterment of self, neighbors, and humanity in general. Now enjoy the fireworks, safely! And apologize to your poor doggies, as they no doubt dread this day.

Today’s Tidbit

Why can’t someone enact a law against leaving loud truck engines idle in excess of five minutes! This happened while I was out today, and after standing there for nearly 15, I finally had to chance it and cross. Luckily, things weren’t too terribly busy. It does annoy me, though.

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