Recently I was chatting over a few alcoholic beverages to a friend who’s comments bought me to tears. We were in the bar having the usual light hearted banter as is often the case on a Friday evening after a long week in the office. Maybe it was the beer talking, maybe it was genuine. At the time I wasn’t sure. However this is what happened.
So, the person in question has changed her life around dramatically over the last few weeks and she accredits having the will power to do it to the man that enjoys independent life living as a legally blind man. The man in question was me. For someone to say these words and mean them from the bottom of there heart for me was truly humbling.
I spend most of my life helping people with sight loss both professionally and voluntarily but to have such an unexpected impact on the life of a sighted friend makes me really think about life.
After losing my sight I never wanted to be a stay at home do nothing kind of person living off benefits and getting life paid for me by my once fellow tax payers. So I set about trying to find work. in 2008 just 2 years after losing my sight I started working for Insight Gloucestershire. I made it one of my main ambitions within my new role to set up a support group for younger visually impaired people so there was no body else that had to feel the social isolation that I once felt. Seven years down the line and that group is still going and from it we have spawned the Gloucestershire Growlers and the Insight Glos Goalball team.
These groups are great but I wouldn’t have the will to do it without having my escapes in life. My ways of relaxing. Before sight loss I used to play a lot of pool. I like to think I was pretty good at it. in fact not being able to play pool was for me more devastating than losing my sight in the first place. Not only is it a good challenge it is also really good for social interaction and I find it a great way to relax after work. So after a while I started trying to play again. I taught myself a new way of playing. Use the shadows, so I pick up my pool stick look at the white ball and assess the rest of the balls. You never lose the knowledge of how to pot a ball. Once I realised I could do it by using the sometimes generous lighting my whole world started to feel more and more like I was just another face. So practically day after day I would go into the bar, order a nice cold pint and play pool by myself trying to re-perfect my craft until I felt ready to play other people. Pool was a brilliant way to get to know people and a great confidence builder. Of course some people would think I was taking the p**s but hey. I didn’t care, I was able to play pool again and it didn’t matter what anyone else thought.
The way I see it is, my sight loss doesn’t stop me living a normal life, it just slows me down. If anyone finds my way of living inspirational then I find that quite amazing. To me, life is for living and I think I do a pretty good job at it. It’s incredible how simply playing pool again gave me the confidence to be the man that I am now.
That’s it for now, thanks for reading.
All the best