The School of Terrible Possible Outcomes and Afflictions (and Me)

 “Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.” – Hermann Hesse, ‘Siddhartha’.

When I was a little girl, I used to test my survival skills; I would wrap a bandana around my eyes and use the handle end of the broom to tap, tap, bump my way around my bedroom, the kitchen (in those rare moments when no adults were present) and anywhere else I was allowed to roam. I would use a tree branch in the back yard, the dish towel that did double duty as a cape for either or both of my little brothers would do triple duty for me as the transformational device that took away all sight, color and light; it was an opportunity for my other senses to enhance and for my eyes to take a much-needed rest. The survival of the fittest was something my father spoke of frequently and with great respect; nature’s way of ensuring not only the survival of the human race but also that it wasn’t a complete and total waste of a race.

I didn’t limit my school of Terrible Possible Outcomes and Afflictions to just blindness; I also learned to write and eat with my left hand as well as continue to work with my right hand. I would cover one eye to experience how much my balance was effected by my sight and same with hearing. I would write notes to myself in case I lost my memory, or my mind. I would leave myself bread crumbs in my journals, buried deep with my ramblings and in letters to friends and loved ones. I have talismans that take me to my happiest places, material things that I hold to see the faces of those I love. I have photos of friends and places, passport stamps and train tickets punched. I wrote things down, happy events as well as tear-stained, morning after a week of bad choices, drunk on guilty secrets and running wild in the city; I had to remember or I was doomed to relive those painful lessons over and over.

In all of my training as a child, terrible teen and anguished adult, I never thought about how to deal with happiness, good karma, an embarrassment of riches in friends, family, co-workers and the kindness of strangers. I have a life that I could only dream of as a child; a soul that is at peace with the life it’s led in this time, within this body, as this fantastically flawed human being. I am in no way done or sitting on my laurels, whatever they are. I am seeking the next great adventure; the journey to the bridge where the crossroads of change and uncertainty meet over the river of opportunity is headed towards the great unknown. I have left what I no longer need at the banks of this river and will take a step into my future.

Photo by Martin Damboldt on

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