I went blind last week. Thank God, it was only for one week. I had a massive allergic reaction in my left eye that literally closed it. It was quite gross. The membrane behind the eye swelled to the point it covered the eye. To say I looked like an extra in some B-rated horror flick would be an understatement.
The problem wouldn’t have been so exaggerated if I were born with two working eyes. I was born with one. It never bothered me before because I didn’t know better. In fact, no one found out about my one blind eye until I was twelve years old. Back then people simply didn’t look for problems. I believe this is why there seems to be more problems now then we had in the past. People are just looking harder. Since there was little I could do without bumping into things I just hung around between doctor appointments and thought about all the clutter in my mind I should start getting rid of. Physiologically one only has a certain number of dendrites to hold information and once those are filled there is little room for anything new.
Plus, why should one be bothered by the past of which you can do nothing about. It is hard to handle the present in order to hope for the future. The past is something that is done and can never change. I smile when I think of one of my favorite expressions. I didn’t make it up or know who did but it is part of a memory I will never throw away. It states that the past is history, the future is a mystery, and there is a reason they call today a present.
Everyone loves a garage sale. It’s a time when we can get rid of all the junk we have accumulated over the past decade or six. It’s usually precipitated, either by a spouse demanding that all closets be emptied or the need to have a car actually fit in a garage. So, sitting in my new out-of-focus world I decided it was time to have my own mental garage sale.
Having my first bout with blindness I decided to get rid of a memory from my past. Not a memory, so much as a disability that had been with me my whole life. I was born with one eye not working. It worked a little but the shadows and blurred images I could see didn’t allow any depth perception or the excitement of playing a pirate with a black eye patch. I also had a tough time playing catcher on my little league baseball team. Since I was always the largest player on the team my coach who happened to be my father decided I would make a great catcher. Needless to say after I was almost knocked out two or three times off to my old position of third base I was sent.
I hid this disability for most of my childhood years. In fact, I thought it was normal for people to be able to see clearly out of one eye and not so clearly out of the other. Every time I went to the doctor he asked me how I was seeing. On a couple of occasions I told him I had a tough time seeing out of my right eye. Since both my older sisters had glasses the doctor assumed I wanted to be like them and was making up the story that my right eye didn’t work. I think my distrust of doctors started when I was very young.
I was finally found out when I was a freshman in high school. In fact, it was my fault they found out. After I made the football team I told my coach I had a difficult time seeing out of the right side of my helmet. Since my position was defensive lineman I was easy prey for anyone blocking from the right. The coach sent me to the nurse who finally sent me to an ophthalmologist who discovered I had little sight in my right eye. He also discovered it couldn’t be fixed and I would have to live with it. This was not a major problem because I had been living with it for the first 14 years of my life. But, because I had this type of physical disability I was told it was too dangerous for me to play sports. I was not only taken off the football team but also all the teams my high school offered. This devastated me to the point that I lost about 40 pounds and became convinced I was not as good as everyone else.
Looking out through the blurred vision of my now only eye I realized I had hung onto this useless memory for most of my life. Even though I had always tried to show that I could do anything I wanted I was still nagged by the fact I had one eye that didn’t work. On this day, the day I thought I lost my only good eye I decided to finally get rid of that thought and concentrate instead on the fact that I had an eye that will hopefully work well again. The ultimate garage sale had just released a part of my history I no longer wanted. In fact, the garage sale of my mind has just begun.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine