Sensing Friends Blog

Sept 2017

25th September 

Sharing a Moment

I had a moment to reflect on a moment, a moment of time when I was outside in nature. I was not alone. With me were some sighted and visually impaired friends. Also, further afield, was the sound of the wind. It came in and out, letting us know it was around too, a force that was alive, a force to be reckoned with.
I looked around, sussed the situation, OK it’s windy, near an open gently crackling fire, coffee in hands, I’m safe, all young and old around me are safe. A good check in and we are ready to roll. I smiled and said something like ‘so we are all fine then?’ assuming the answer would affirm my thoughts.
There I waited expectantly but no response! Just a stillness, shuffling feet and fidgeting young anticipating souls in their bodies. Quick! slurp my coffee to cover up my anxious reality check. I looked over at one of the other helpers, for reassurance, smiled as the smoke blew back in my direction. I coughed a little, while it prickled my eyes. Hmmm! slight discomfort but an inviting rustic smell. ‘Alright to go?’ again I asked, this time though I must have given a hint of my own hidden need for reassurance. ‘ I don’t know is everyone one fine?” A definite questioning helping voice replied.

Isolation

It was at this point, as I momentarily pondered the question in the helping voice, that the second reality check blew in my face like the wind, a strong autumn wind. Ooooh! I thought, everyone looks OK, their sitting round the fire like me, safe and sound and I think I’m feeling ok, I think, am I? It was just at the point, somewhere between panning round to check again everyone’s body language and checking my internal felt sense, that I realised we are all so different. How do we find connection in this difference. I realised, as I got that uncomfortable sense in my self, that the ‘them and me’ monster was hear. This feeling came in through my mind passed down through my heart, then steamrollered down to the pit of my stomach with a thud, like black dense tar covering a solid block of cast iron. The air around me, which moments before had been a vessel of magical sharing, where thoughts were all one, now seemed to thicken into walls of dense concrete separation between me, my own feelings and others around me. In this moment I felt isolation. I was with friends, but yet so very alone.
How do I know the person next to me? I mean how do I know what they are truly feeling, there thoughts? Yet in the previous moment I had assumed I had got everyone measured up in my mind, how presumptuous of me.

Unique Experiences Which We Can Share

I sat with this moment, which felt like fifty thousand moments, I felt it churn in my stomach and ache in my heart as I thought now, now just keep it together, whatever, relax and breath.And as I sat with this feeling, what felt like an eternity, somewhere an old comfortable feeling came in, maybe I sensed it through the air, the collective consciousness being transmitted from the robin perched sound and still on the tree to my left, my personal view I know, but it makes some sort of sense to me in a way that maybe I can only comprehend. Whatever it was I was reminded in my core self ‘We are all hear sitting, experiencing this very moment now together, very much sharing it. How very special and sacred is this. Each one of us is feeling it differently and no we may not be all on the same branch, bush or gust of wind.’ As this thought came to me the thick air of walls melted away as I got a real sense of relief. So maybe hopefully we will always have a somewhat different perspective, from the person in front of us. We have our own very unique set of attributes, like a personal tool box, we may use different senses to experience too. At the base of this experiencing there is always something we can find to share with others. What a relief! What liberation ,fun and feeling we can offer with our very unique individual experiences that we can contrast, explore, ponder over, share and celebrate, in the moment, with each other. How richly exciting it is to know that we are just so much more that the same as each other but we can find that very human experience where we can share. And yes we do share our thoughts and feelings using so many more senses than we might think. The wind came again at this moment, the robin flew away. I thought I for a second ‘ hang on did I hear right? Did I even hear the flutter of the robins wings, a lovely affirming thought. Yes my thought and feeling which I can share with all here if wish to.

 

 

18th September

You Said It In The Smile I Could Not See

As I recently sat round the table with young sighted, blind and partially sighted friends I had the chance to reflect deeply about some of the different and more hidden issues that can arise for people who are living with being partially sighted.
It occurred to me so strongly that there are some hidden issues that can arise for partially sighted youngsters, which may be somewhat different for those who clearly present as having no sight.

Typical Scenario
Imagine such a typical everyday experience for someone dealing with visual impairment, as talking to someone who assumes you can see there body language because you don’t appear to have little vision. Imagine that the reassuring affirming smile, from the person in front of you who thinks you can see them clearly, goes a miss and out the window. When you say hello to them they are to busy to answer, but instead smile and they just assume the smile they give you will say it all. For those who are dealing with with the lack of visual clues that naturally occur in body language it could be expressed  as follows “I said hello but was I heard, was I accepted or not, what do I do next?”
For many who are partially sighted the above is one example of how the extra amount of emotional energy, in trying to deal with the social uncertainty of the situation, also comes into the everyday experience of just being in the moment. This may happen silently.

Bridging The Gap
Many partially sighted youngsters, on an ongoing basis, have to bring the gap emotionally, socially and practically, between the ongoing challenges they experience in accessing the sighted world. In many cases, because those who are partially sighted may present as having some sight, not being understood or appreciated for the extra psychological, physical and emotional energy it takes to bridge this gap all the time, can be an extra burden for an individual dealing with these challenges.

Hidden Prejudices
This reflection hit me hard as I realised myself, in my own shadow and prejudices, where I was so sure I understood, I got it, that I was actually missing an important point for many individuals experiencing visual impairment. I have, by default assumed that I was right to not overtly draw to much attention to the social, emotional and practical difficulties some of the partially sighted people I know within the blind community experience. I am sure my way of being, and others who have approached individuals who are partially sighted, in the same way as me, may be ok for some people dealing with the ongoing challenges of visual impairment. I know from my own personal experiences, where I have had to deal with the challenges of tackling things that are harder for me , I have always felt like I don’t want to much attention on my difficulties, or anything that may represent what looks like sympathy. I wanted to hide it, not focus on it, to be seen as strong at all costs.

Discounting The Strength
However how much does this discount the reality of the the pain and strength it takes with the ongoing struggle a young partially sighted person or adult experiences each day. Each day those who are partially sighted, often without a place to express the feelings, are having to deal with the challenges that life brings in just privately having to bridge the gap between the sighted world experience. So often the sighted world takes for granted the ease of accessibility to the world. These can be so unconsciously overlooked by those with no visual impairment.

The above example is just one of many possible scenarios that can happen everyday for those who are dealing with the challenges of visual impairment.