I bet you want to know: how do I get around? It’s a fair question. My vision is 6/120, meaning at 6 metres I see what you see at 120 meters. Big difference. Oh that’s only out of my peripheral vision, I’m totally blind in my central vision.
But I play ice hockey. I run. I surf. I SCUBA dive. I cycle competitively for Australia, even. I do it without a cane, a dog and, often, solo. Nine times out of ten the people around me have no idea I’m legally blind—but once they find out, the next question is almost always the same: how? How did I get out the door and down the block? How did I catch that giant wave and ride it to shore? Am I scared to fall? To trip? To get stuck or lost or into a hairy situation?
My short answer? First, YES, I do think about all of those things. But guess what? Living my life with macular dystrophy has taught me a critical lesson: to trust, and not just in the traditional sense. I have to trust that things will be as they should be when I walk out that door. Then, I have to trust the footpath I’m on is the same it was yesterday, last week or last month. Easy enough, right? Then there’s the logic piece—I have to trust in basic human logic (my own, specifically) and what, simply, makes sense in the universe. Ninety nine percent of the time that trust and, with it, keen senses, logic and a solid memory are all I—or anyone—need to navigate any situation.
That’s the core 99%—so what about the other 1%? Those are the scenarios when I trip, fall, stumble or, sometimes, worse. But I can’t live my life in the 1%, and neither should you.
I acknowledge, though, that it can be harder to do then it sounds. We’re hardwired to avoid pain even more than we seek out pleasure—so building up the 1% is a biological imperative, really. But it’s critical here to take a step back. While I know it’s possible I’ll crash my bike, slip on the sidewalk or get pulled under unexpectedly, it’s overwhelmingly more likely that I won’t. And I’ll take those odds.
Granted, the more complex the task the higher that percentage rises. I once biked solo from Sydney to Melbourne—definitely a complex task from kilometer one through 1,000. But, like anything any one of us does, I weighed the possibilities, the wonder and the excitement with the risk. Would tackling this epic bike ride be balance out a 10% risk of injury, accidents or other run-ins? What about 20%? 30%? 50/50?
It’s a story for another post, but there’s definitely value here whether you’re sighted or not and, more importantly, no matter what the task at hand is. All too often we stop reaching out of fear we’ll fall short, or worse. My advice? IT HAPPENS. While 1% may be unlikely it isn’t impossible, and I prepare for that possibility every single day. But there’s a fine line between letting fear dictate your day-to-day and, simply, embracing the possibilities sitting right outside of your door.
Maybe that doesn’t get to the root of the question—how specifically I navigate in the world—but, for me, it’s at the heart of it, for sure. The tactical? More on that in the next post but, in short, it’s sound, touch, logic, trust and, even, some vision for good measure. Until then, give some thought to what’s holding you back, and then think about the 1% in play. Chances are you’ll find your motivation and