I Can See You're a Wonderful Person
Happy Birthday Cliff!
My blind friend Cliff has been in my life for nearly thirty years. I was just a teenager when my parents let him stay in the room in our basement. He lived with us for only six months but it started a friendship that has lasted many years and has opened my eyes greatly. This story is written about and for him.
I can see
I can see you do not let your blindness stop you from living your life to the fullest. Your appreciation for the daily joys and challenges in your life emphasizes my disabilities in how I react to the world.
When I walk into a room behind you — you turn on the light. I can see you are aware of my needs whereas I live a more selfish life.
As a youth you mastered both water-skiing and snow skiing. You participated in a downhill skiing competition in the Swiss Alps. I can see your zest for life has provided you with many great and exhilarating experiences. I have only skied once — it scared me and I was afraid to get hurt so I did not try anymore.
Once, when out paddling on the lake, it began to rain. You stopped paddling and asked me to describe the butterfly that you felt land on your knee. I can see you take the time to appreciate the beauty in the world whereas I just wanted to rush in out of the rain.
So many times you were pushed into the pool. You would always come up hollering with laughter. I can see you enjoy the thrills of life whereas I have difficulty appreciating the humour and come out of the pool hollering with anger at the culprit who threw me in.
On a quiet Sunday you were asked, "If you could do anything, what would you do?" You replied you would like to drive a car. I can see your aspirations are grounded and you strive to enjoy the simple things that life cannot offer you. I have always taken for granted my ability to drive a car.
You have met many people in your life and keep in touch with some of them even though they are scattered throughout the country. You travel by streetcars and subways so you can get to a station to buy a ticket then travel by bus or train to reach a friend's house. I can see the friendships you have gathered are more important to you than the tedious travel it takes to maintain them. Would I take those long, tedious journeys for my friends?
Your vacation last year was on a cruise ship, with a blind friend, by yourselves. I can see you follow your heart and experience life, undeterred by your blindness and the problems it may cause. I have always been nervous to travel and of what might happen while I am away.
You once, as a teen, found yourself lost in Paris, France. You were looking for a group of high school friends that you were supposed to meet up with en route to England. Despite your blindness, and your lack of French, you traveled by three taxis, spoke to different people and finally found your friends. I can see your determination to conquer your problems drives you to success. I think my fear and frustration would have overcome me long before I found my friends.
You have a love of music that has guided you to a tour of Apple Records in England, a career as a radio disc jockey and interviews with many major rock stars around the world. You are close friends with a popular band and have emceed some of their concerts. Yet, despite having met all these famous people I can see you remain faithful and appreciate all your friends no matter what their status.
Although you are blind you own a TV and VCR. A strange thing I thought until you explained you like to "watch" movies friends have recommended. I can see you aim to find common ground with people, have something to talk to them about and help them feel less uncomfortable about your blindness. I have always been comfortable with you, and your blindness, but I veer away from other people with disabilities without even trying to find a common interest.
You live in an apartment alone in a big city and you take the subway to work. I can see that you face life without hesitation, and you strive to be independent. I have a family to keep me company so I do not have to be alone because I do not like to be alone. I cringe if I have to go to the big city; all the cars and people are just too much for me.
When I see life through your eyes I can see what a wonderful person you are. Despite your disability the qualities that you possess far outweigh the qualities of my character. Life to you is worth living to its fullest. You are not afraid to follow a path and you face the hurdles as they come to you. By knowing you and emulating some of these qualities maybe I can become a wonderful person too.
"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see"