Amazed and Ashamed
I’ve spent the past two mornings with the Ohio State School for the Blind (OSSB). I didn’t want to go, but others told me that I should. My self-limiting beliefs started to kick in. “I can’t relate to blind kids” “I’m not blind, so what could I have to offer” “I don’t want to be known as a speaker that only speaks to visually impaired organizations” “My message is for people that want to overcome their own blindness, not physical blindness” .
Shame on me.
If I hadn’t gone to OSSB, they never would have understood… Wrong sentence. The truth of the matter is that I NEVER WOULD HAVE UNDERSTOOD that they are people just like you and me. Just like you and me, they have everyday challenges, family, friends, the little things too that make up the details in life. If I had not gone, I never would have met so many students and staff that are true to themselves ALL day long. You may be saying, “Brian, are you really trying to tell that I have a lot in common with people that don’t even see me? This seems hard to believe.” Well, that’s exactly what I’m telling you. They were completely transparent and allowed me to understand what they do each day to make sure they can live the life they want. It’s not that they want to be understood or they feel as though society mistreats them. Their issues are the same as any other teenagers. Social media, family, music and dealing with the opposite sex are top of mind.
And then there were the moments that were reserved for me.
- Like when a student shared how he had lost his best-friend in the past few months and how that had impacted him. Come to find out that it is very hard for this student to talk about this, and he opened up to me. Wow! I remember hearing about the story he spoke of on the news.
- Like when a student asked me, “what was the easiest thing for you to do again, once you lost your sight?” Huh? Nobody has ever asked me that. She also asked me a question that left my head spinning. I turned to the principal in disbelief. The principal replied to my non-verbal request and said, “I don’t know what to tell you. This happens to our staff all of the time.”
- Like when a student’s face lit up and she said to me that she had lost her eyesight because she has a brain tumor. She was very excited to know that she had a connection with me, but there was more. The student shared she had a shunt and then my face lit up. This isn’t something that she has an adult example of. She doesn’t know anyone else who has a shunt. It certainly wasn’t something that she had expected a successful, handsome ;-), father of three amazing kids and husband to one beautiful wife to have.
We could argue for a long time, who got the most out of our time together. All that I can say is that I’ll be back. I’ll be back to share more… laughs,
Until we meet again.