Treasure Your Flaws - Sometimes They Are Your Greatest Gifts

At the age of 3 (or was it 4?) I had the good fortune to be hit in the eye with a stick - causing almost total blindness in my left eye.

Now, I'm sure my family felt that it was a tragic accident and a terrible thing to happen to such a small child. My brother, who was holding the stick, probably didn't see the "good fortune" in it either, but that's another story.

At the time, all I remember is many visits to the doctor. These visits were invariably associated with eye drops followed by the ever- present eye patch. I'm not sure how long this healing process took, but I do remember being told that " as soon as the blood behind the eye is absorbed, vision will be restored". As it turns out, the doctors were wrong, the vision never was restored, except thankfully for some peripheral sight.

Having been faced with this condition at such an early age, it was easy to adapt to the differences in vision and compensate automatically. See, if you only have one eye, you live in a 2 dimensional world. There is no depth perception. It's very difficult to tell distances between objects. You really can't tell if it's a few inches or several feet. This isn't too much of a problem once you get the hang of things, but I still  sometimes miss the glass when pouring a drink or go to put something on a table and let go a little too early and whatever I had falls on the floor with a crash! And you know those cool 3D movies that have become so popular? Yep, can't see them either - with or without the special glasses.

Inspite of these things though, the only downside I can remember was that, because of the blow to the eye, my left eye wasn't straight. It always looked to the left no matter what my right eye was looking at! Not cool if you're a kid in school. We all know children can be very cruel and it was not unusual for my mother to find me in tears upon returning from a day with my fellow students.
This changed though when, at the age of 9, my mother found an organization that would pay to have my eye straightened. The surgery was scheduled and soon my blind eye was at least able follow my good eye.

I tell you this story, not for pity or sympathy, but because I learned so many things that I otherwise never would have learned.

I learned that I am not a victim.  I am not different than anybody else.  Being so little when it happened - I don't remember what it was like to see with both eyes, so I learned to do things I wanted to do even if it took a little extra effort or practice. I did acrobatics, routines on uneven parallel bars, baton twirling - things that normally required depth perception. I did it anyway.
At times frustration would get the better of me, but I perservered and just did it.  My most frustrating and at the same time proudest accomplishment, was learning to play squash. Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with the game, it's played in Europe and is pretty much like racquetball except the racket has a longer handle. It requires speed on your feet and in your thinking and yes - depth perception. (Just how far away is that ball from the wall anyway....) I learned to play and actually won a few tournaments.... The point I'm trying to make is this - don't let other people tell you that you are not capable. Only YOU can decide just how capable you are.

This is actually the smaller lesson I learned. The big one is simply having more compassion for other people.
When other people complain about a person having trouble trying to park their car, or making a really wide turn or some other annoying behavior- I ask them to be patient, and point out that the person might not have the same faculties that other people do.

I also taught my children to NEVER, EVER make fun of someone for something that they can't help.  
Although these don't sound like much - they are profound insights that help make this world just a little kinder.  As I go through life, I often smile and remind others that people are not intentionally out to aggravate you (well, not usually) they are just doing the best they can with the resources they have. And that's alright.
I leave you with this last thought. Remember when your mother told you "it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye!" It's true, when that happens, it becomes a life lesson.

2 comments:

  1. Jacquie I really like this you have a great talent Writing. You are also a great teacher for those who seem to not realize that not all of us are perfect like them. I think you have found your purpose.
    Teaching compassion is a gift not too many people have these are times when great compassion is needed.
    Thank you, Tickles and Sparkles

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  2. Thank you so much for your kind words, Julie!

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