A Variety of Personal Experiences & Reflections

On The Loss of a Golden Friend

“Make new friends, but keep the old. The new ones are silver and the old ones are gold.” While my mom didn’t invent the phrase, I’d often heard her saying it. 

I lost an old friend in May 2021. I began writing parts of this shortly thereafter. It was my way of dealing with the sad, empty feeling. I didn’t know if I’d ever share it. Then in June of 2022 I learned of something that got me to return to this piece. 

Because of Covid, the Celebration of his Life had been delayed. But now I learned it was planned for the end of this month at a time we could not make the 2,000-mile journey. Finishing and sharing this seemed like what I should do to celebrate a good man taken too soon.

I met Dave in 1972 when we shared a house for about a year in Bloomington, Indiana. He was already an experienced nursery man working in that field. He’d often bring home on his bicycle, one type of fresh vegetable or another to share. I was always impressed with his classical guitar skill. Trying to outdo each other with trick frisbee pitch and catch filled many hours. I got my photogenic part Persian cat named Nina from him. I have many stories of Nina from our 21 years together. Sorry, back to Dave. 

Over our 47 years of friendship, we and our wives stayed in touch as we each moved around the country. We managed to visit each other several times as well. For the first years after we separated, we would record thoughts and what we were up to on cassette tapes and mail them. Remember those things? 

Later, we kept in touch mostly by phone which we both liked more than emailing. We had a funny system. Our regular monthly calls almost always happened Friday at 7:00 PM in whatever time zone he lived. His wonderful wife Sally, later told me he made sure to be nearby and looked forward to those calls, as did I.

In 2018, an odd intestinal problem developed that led to him spending years in and out of hospitals and skilled nursing centers. When in such places, I’d call weekly at our usual day and time. We always had so much to talk about. 

He found himself being moved all over southern California to various medical and care facilities. Some of them were less than ideal, but he always let whoever he’d encounter know that he appreciated the work they did and the help they provided. I can’t recall ever hearing him actually complaining though there were times it would certainly have been justified. He was just that kind of a guy.

The one time I messed up our calling schedule, I called that Sunday. That weekend, Sally had driven them both up into the mountain park in which they used to spend many happy hours. So, in a way, it was good timing to have called. He was so happy to be with his wife, out of medical facilities and outside in a place he loved. How great it was to hear the joy and smile in his voice. We all thought things were looking up. 

When the next Friday rolled around, as soon as he picked up, I knew something was wrong. Instead of hearing his clear, cheerful voice, he sounded very odd. His voice was muffled, there was beeping in the background and there was the loud sound of rushing air.

In a few moments, he explained that he was back in the hospital in intensive care and wearing a full oxygen mask. Then after a pause, he said, “I have sepsis”. It all happened the day after that great day we last spoke. Shocked and stumbling for words, I urged him to rest and said I’d call Sally tomorrow and get the full story.

During that call, she explained that for the 3rd time, sepsis probably entered through the opening around the tube in his belly. She said it happened the day after I called. It came on shortly after the visiting nurse left. Dave was now intubated and it was not looking good. I was in a fog not wanting to contemplate the meaning of her words.

The next day, I called her cell at 2:00 their time. She said my timing was perfect. She and one of their daughters were with Dave in his room. His medication had been reduced enough that he would slip in and out of consciousness but occasionally be able to respond with slight head movement and eye blinks. She told Dave that I was on the phone and asked if I wanted to be put on her speakerphone. What can and do you say at such a moment? 

When she said I was on, I began to recall the many fun and memorable experiences he and I had shared during our Bloomington time together. Sally laughed out loud saying, “I never heard any of those stories before.”

I didn’t want to monopolize the time, so I told Dave he was my best friend and I loved him for that. When Sally took the phone back, I asked how Dave was reacting. She said he had a small smile on his face and had formed his hand into the thumbs up position.

I called her cell the next day. In a calm voice, she said that he had passed away about 5 minutes after I spoke to him. The smile and thumbs up were still there. I fell silent until she reminded me that his quality of life had diminished so far that this was sad, but probably the best thing overall. 

Since that day, he often comes to mind. Friday nights now aren’t the same.  I still call Sally every couple of months at our usual time and we both look forward to the talk. In that way, Dave is still with us both.

Thinking of all those who have had an impact on my life, this analogy has come to me. I imagine all those who have been any part of my life as the stars in a night sky. Some are bigger and brighter than others. Some have long been there while others burned brightly but briefly. Some wink out before our very eyes. Yet, all cast the light that lit parts of our life’s journey. And all their starlight is within us still.

An Unusual Day

This blog post was written in the summer of 2019. 

Most days find me on the computer.  Much of that time seems spent on my calendar business related activities. But here is what made one day so very unusual and fun.

I hadn’t turned on the computer all morning due to many household chores. That alone was unusual. At 11:30 my wife and I walked to a city-wide event taking place in the large park across the street. We first strolled past a scattering of classic cars of the 60’s. More than one brought back memories of my youth. 

Then on to the food and music area which had been there all week. We had certainly taken advantage of the many food trucks that circled the running track.  We even noticed that there was a beer tent. Grin. 

But today was the day of the big parade. It had over 115 floats, loud vehicles, marching bands and organizations. As we finished lunch, those in the parade were assembling on adjacent streets.

Leading off the parade were two groups. One walking that promotes neighborhood efforts and one cycling that promotes bicycles. Since we are associated with both groups, we regularly are invited to join them.

With my low vision, I don’t feel safe on my old 2-wheeler, so some years ago, I bought a 3-wheeler that works fine for me. We went home and mounted our respective bikes and headed to our gathering spot.

It was a sunny and hot day. We are lucky that in our older, near-downtown neighborhood, much of the streets are mostly tree-lined offering welcome cooling shade.

My wife was asked to hold one side of the group’s wide banner and lead off the whole parade. I was again asked to ride behind them with boxes of flyers and litter bags sitting in the trike’s large rear wire basket. When the signal came to begin, the banner carriers set off and the whole parade began to lurch forward.   

I, along with bicyclists of all ages and even a guy on a unicycle, slowly weaved back and forth across the empty streets as we smiled, passed out litter bags and tossed candy to the kids. You can guess how those litter bags mostly got used.  Grin.

As we slowly covered the one-and-a-half-mile route, I marveled at how nice it was to have the curbs lined with happy families and not cars!

As soon as we got to the ending point, we unloaded and took a less crowded route back home. With friends nearby, snacks and beverages in hand, we settled in as the 2-hour parade passed directly in front of our house!  What a treat!

But that’s not all.  At 4:30, I headed to do my volunteer stint at the entrance to the park pool and golf parking lot to urge others to park elsewhere. So, after that, I was hot, tired and ready for a shower and a relaxing dinner at home.

That evening, the distant sound of music from the band in the park floating through the open windows was a perfect end to an unusual and fun day.

Who are the Bravest Among us?

I’m not talking about first responders or those who willingly perform death-defying feats. Their bravery can clearly be seen. I’m talking about people who, on a daily basis, do what most people say they could never do. I’m talking about the blind, the deaf, people in wheelchairs or those with cognitive, or other challenging conditions, or even with a combination of them. They are all around you with visible and invisible differences.

Every day they get up and do what needs to be done. For some, this means dealing with life where they live. For others, it means venturing forth into the world where their “otherness” is on display. There, they must deal with a stream of small and large challenges that go unnoticed by most everyone around them.

Reading what is written on a sign, moving aside a closed door or traveling independently may not present a problem for you to overcome. But for millions of people, it is. They sometimes refer to those unchallenged by such obstacles as the “Temporarily Able Bodied” or TABs.

A TAB will often express amazement upon seeing a person with some challenge traveling independently or doing other normal things. They might say, “I couldn’t or wouldn’t be brave enough to do that”.

Not everyone with certain challenges can or will tackle the world far beyond their door. Some do so only after devoting time and effort to build skills and confidence often taught by experts. To reach their goals, some make use of technology or special equipment. For others, a service dog allows them to carry on a normal life.

Regardless if their day is spent at home, or in the wider world, dealing with and living their life in spite of what others would find a crushing weight, is why I call all these people some of the bravest among us. 

And to all of you TABS, you might want to think about making the world a little easier for those dealing with some sort of challenge. Many of them were once fully able-bodied like you. Life and aging have a funny way of catching up with you and changing your perspective.

A Winter Walk to the Y

Living where such things happen, yesterday, we received 10 inches of snow.  Now today, it is sunny with a clear blue sky. 

If you live with low vision as I do, you have a love/hate relationship with bright sunny days.  Maybe you are even more ambivalent if you have to deal with what we up here in Minnesota call, “shovelable” levels of snow.  But that is a rant for another day. 

Anyway, my typical routine is to visit my local YMCA for a Sunday workout.  Usually I travel the approximately 1 mile, winding bike path through the park on the 3-wheeled bike I got several years ago.  While the city does a good job clearing these paths, so soon after the snow stopped falling, I chose to walk this time. 

One reason to walk and not ride is because the wide 3-wheeler would take up much of the cleared path.  If I were to confront a walker, in order for us to pass each other, they would have to step off the path and into deep snow.  Not a Minnesota Nice thing to make someone do.

The city’s cute little snow plow left the trail slightly snow covered but pushed up almost knee-high walls of snow on both sides of the trail.  It was like walking in a shallow ditch. The shadow cast by the snow wall would clearly reveal one side or the other as the trail curved along its route.  In this instance, the sunshine was helpful.

Yet for us with low vision, sunny days and the resulting shadows have a dark side.  Sorry, no pun intended; well maybe just a little intended.  Sunny days, especially when snow abounds, require sun glasses.  The normally sighted just pop them on and think nothing of it.  But those with low vision need sun glasses as well.  For some, a bright sunny day causes eye pain. 

While we should protect our retinas from bright sun, wearing them comes at a price.  We see little to nothing when something is in a shadow.  Adding sun glasses guarantees we won’t see what is in that shadow.  It doesn’t matter what creates that shadow.  Even if it is just a large tree, we still might wonder, is that merely a shadow or a physical obstacle in our path?  That is why using a white cane is so important.

On this walk while my white cane kept track of the “snow bumpers” and by seeing their cast shadow, the walk went fine.  Fine, as long as you ignore that in the open parkland the windblown, sub-freezing air kept me from stopping to admire the scene.  

Arriving at the Y by foot rather than by bike presented the first real challenge.  Normally arriving by bike, I’d curve up the sidewalk ramp at the far end of the building and loop back to lock up close to the entrance.  From there, I knew the short distance to the front doors.  While there are two separate sets of stairs leading up to the front of the building, neither of them leads directly to the front doors.  For some reason, the black door mat wasn’t there.  Oh, did I mention, the sun was on the other side of the building putting the door side in full shade?  

Once I mounted the first set of 13 steps, I was not sure exactly where the door was other than between where I stood and the other set of stairs.  In such situations I have a work around.  I pause while I fuss with something.  In this case, it was to slowly pull off sunglasses and start to loosen my coat.  While doing this, I watch closely for someone to enter or leave.  The family that conveniently exited right on cue, got me smoothly to and past the outer doors.  Darn those metal-finish doors with metal-finished door handles with their lack of contrast. 

The next step was navigating through the inner set of doors.  Again, there is little contrast, often various signs and now, snow shovels and sand buckets sitting in the space.  Again, just as I stood finishing stashing mittens and hat, two laughing guys pushed open the inner doors and I slid on in.

Mark and I exchanged greetings as he logged me in.  From there, I stayed on the black mat, through another door and turned to mount the stairs to the upper floor.  That floor is my next, but less challenging task.  Having traveled this floor for some years, I still pay attention to make the correct set of hall turns at the correct spot to get to the men’s locker room.  And no, I have never messed up and accidently gone into the women’s locker room.  Thank you very much! 

While I am a trusting person, I do put a lock on the locker I use.  I used to use one of those push-button combination locks.  No key and nothing to carry around.  Somehow it disappeared and I now use a lock with a key that I clip to the inside loop of my gym shorts.  Since I wear that shirt and shorts under my outer clothes, they were nice and warm. 

Changing foot gear is a different story.  It involved pulling cold cotton socks and gym shoes from my icy gym bag.  I sit on those socks as I get ready to warm them up before swapping them for my nice warm wool socks.

Once all that is done, I made my way to the rear stairs and down to the floor with the work-out room.  That large space is filled with quite an array of equipment.  At this hour on Sunday, there might be six or fewer present, which I like.  The space is roughly divided into thirds with aerobic machines, Cybex weight machines and a free weight area or what some call as barbells.  I’m a Cybex guy, so that’s where I head.

While I have a good mental map of the machines I use, I make use of another trick to get from the room’s low-contrast entrance to my area.  Over the years, I’ve learned to notice the position of ceiling lights.  Noticing them when entering a room can be useful as a guide.  Fluorescent ceiling fixtures are usually in parallel rows.  By using them and my long white cane, I can move directly to my first machine without incident.  

The machines are painted white and the floor is dark, so that helps.  Being familiar with how to use each of them took several visits, but by now I actually look like I know what I’m doing.  There have even been times when I encountered a less-experienced Cybex user having difficulty with an adjustment whom I was able to help. I’ll bet they will have a story to tell about how this blind guy helped them.

After an hour or so, I’m ready to give the 15 machines I just used a well-earned rest.  Using the ceiling light guides, I head straight to and through the room entrance.  From there it is back up the stairs, down the hall and into the locker room.

Back before the Great Disruption as I now call it, I would shower there.  Now I don’t.  I toss my workout duds into my gym bag, pull on a different t-shirt and all my winter gear.  Then I head out and back home.  By now, random glimpses of the dark pavement below begin peaking out.  They provide additional helpful color contrast for my walk back home.

I know that this is not a particularly exciting story, but during the walk home I thought some might like to hear some of the tips and tricks I use in various situations. Maybe I could have left out the part about warming my socks.

One Guy’s Strategy for Dealing with Unfamiliar Public Restrooms

Since this post is written by a guy for guys, you ladies, will have to decide if it contains anything of use to you. But for both groups, please consider using your white cane in these situations. More on that later.

I’m assuming, you’ve figured out where everything is in those public restrooms you occasionally use. But what about dealing with an unfamiliar one?

This post is the strategy I’ve worked out over many years to deal with those situations. I have and make use of my limited eyesight, but maybe a totally blind person will get something out of this as well.

As guys, we’ve learned three things about public restrooms. One, getting in and out can require multiple turns and maybe even opening additional doors. Secondly, while there’s only three fixtures in there we seek, we never know before entering where they will be. So, until a simplified, tactile sign indicating the layout is posted by the gender ID sign as you enter, it will always be a hunt and seek operation. Lastly, don’t even get me started on how many types of soap dispensers and hand drying devices there are, let alone how each operates and where they are hiding – I mean located.

Keep in mind that after doing your business, you want to easily get the heck out. Don’t laugh, I know someone who started calling for help after a frustrating 15 minutes of not finding the door. And no, it wasn’t me.

Public restrooms come in all sizes and layouts. We’ll assume in a one-person restroom, you can figure it out. In a small, narrow, shared restroom, all three fixtures might be on the same wall with the sink closest to the door.

Larger restrooms have no standard layout. But, you know what you need has to be in there somewhere. In the largest restrooms, urinals or even troughs and stalls may be in an adjoining area. Navigating these multi-space types can be the most challenging. Should you feel the need to ask for directions from a fellow occupant, having your cane in hand, will likely result in a helpful response.

For this discussion, we’ll assume you’re dealing with a large, single room facility. Your goal is to create a mental floor plan to follow when you wish to exit. This starts the moment you step from the hall through the entry door or opening. So, here goes.

Begin remembering each turn and/or secondary door through which you passed to reach the main space. Pause and notice what is immediately next to you. This is your exit landmark and remember it well. It could be a full length mirror, the end of the row of sinks, or maybe a large trash can. Remember if it is on your left when you enter, it needs to be on your right when you wish to leave.

Sorry if this is starting to sound like an episode of Mission Impossible. But if it helps you, hum the theme song as you continue your mission. Grin.

If it’s a busy place, step out of the walkway as you confirm your exit landmark. Perhaps, you can tell if you’re alone in there or not. If you’re holding your white cane, pausing a moment won’t raise any concern. I’ve even received some unsolicited useful information from another guy in there.

If the restroom is in use, helpful sounds might identify fixture locations. If you think you’ve spotted them, mark their location on your mental map. Sometimes a ceiling or wall light is located above skinks and urinal, if you can make use of that clue.

If you’re alone in there and the you’re clueless about where the urinals might be, this is where your white cane is particularly handy. Don’t rush, keep track of how you’re moving with respect to your exit landmark. Once you’ve found them and taken care of business, you’re ready for the sinks.

If you already found the sinks, great, retrace your path back to them. If the sinks aren’t yet on your mental map, running water sounds might help. Resume your search. Again, keep in mind where your exit landmark sits.

Once you’re finally at a sink, challenges still remain. You must get water to flow, soap to dispense, find and operate the hand drying device and maybe find a waste basket. I won’t try to describe the many types of such devices and possible locations. So, I hope you’ve already encountered and mastered many of them.

Now, if you were successful in creating your mental map, turn to your exit landmark, and confidently head to the exit.

While it can at times be a stressful experience, I sincerely hope you found something in this post to help you or you could share.

Thank you and happy traveling
Edward Cohen
EZ2See® Products LLC

Why I Finally Started Using a Long White Cane

Long before I decided to begin using a long white cane, I recognized that my eyesight was declining and impacting many aspects of my life.

Among other things, my condition, RP, steals the light-gathering cells in your retina.  Meaning, where others could easily see to navigate, either inside or out, I struggled.   As it worsened, I hesitated going out alone at night.  I hesitated going out with people who didn’t know my sight challenges.  Even on a sunny day, if a shadow wasn’t being cast by steps, I could go flying down them.  I really needed to start using a white cane.  But, like so many in that situation, I held off.

The big wake-up call happened at age 45 when I failed the vision test for my driver’s license.  A follow-up visit to my eye doctor sealed the news.  He pronounced that I now met the terms for being legally blind.   As I sat dejected in the exam chair, he recommended I contact service providers who, among other things, could get me the white cane training I’d need.

For months, I vacillated between thinking of following the doctor’s advice and holding off.  I couldn’t verbalize what kept me from taking his sensible advice.  I knew no blind person to whom I could talk about this.

In my case and maybe for others, my reluctance was really based on fear.  No, I wasn’t afraid of the cane itself, it was fear of what people I knew would now think about me when I appeared with a white cane.  Fear that I’d no longer be seen as the competent guy that I knew I was.  Fear that coworkers or supervisors might start treating me differently and maybe start questioning my work.  Fear that friends would feel sorry for me and want to be overly helpful.  Maybe I was just uncomfortable at the thought of beginning to present as a blind person.

Then there is the thing that guys might not talk about.  If you’re at the age when you’re hoping to go out on dates or find a partner for life, a guy is likely to think his chances are slim if he advertises his disability.

On that point, significant vision-loss wasn’t a factor until after I married.  But before we were engaged, I told her of my retina condition.  I explained that already, I was uncomfortable with night-driving and it would probably get worse.  Her response was simply, “Well okay, then let me start doing all the night driving”.  And that was all there was to it.  I’m a lucky guy.

During a period when I was open to the idea of using a cane, I learned there was a local chapter of a national blind organization in my city and they had an upcoming meeting.  Meeting and talking to both vision-impaired and totally blind members over a period of months, gradually got me over the hump.  I obtained my first folding cane and started learning proper travel techniques.

As I practiced with the cane on walking trails, it was obvious how helpful the cane was.  No more tripping on uneven pavement or stepping into water-filled holes.  Those coming towards me assumed I didn’t see them and gave me wide berth.  Past concerns I’d bump into people, happily vanished.

I worked in a large government complex downtown and had a responsible job.  Even as my vision declined, I was able to successfully travel inside and around the buildings.  I never ended up pulling my folding cane out of my shoulder bag at work.  I did use that cane to get to the bus from home, from the bus to the building and then reverse it all at the end of the day.

I did use a cane when I became involved with new volunteer organizations.  I did use it whenever we traveled by plane or train.  Beside the benefits I’ve already mentioned, a bonus was if I stepped into a confusingly designed or poorly lit public restroom, some helpful guy might be in there and offer some useful directions.  If I accidently bumped into someone, my apology and the sight of my cane always prevented any misunderstanding.

This isn’t a blog on where to go to get assistance.  Dear reader, you could be living anywhere.  But, you might reach out to those in your community who work with seniors or contact your local or state library.  If you have access to the internet, search for the word “blind organization” and the name of your state.  If you have such a thing, consult your phone book.

My relationship with my white caned totally changed when we moved to a new city.  I decided I’d use my cane from then on.  Now everyone who knows me here, knows me as a cane user.  Perhaps it is being older, but I now am proud to walk throughout my community showing that blind people can safely travel independently and are otherwise, no different than anyone else.

I admit that I am not the person who can preach to anyone about boldly stepping forward to start being a cane user as soon as it would help.  I can only say that once I got and learned how to use my white cane, many things I feared did not happen.  And at the same time, challenges I previously faced greatly diminished or ended.

If low vision is making you uncomfortable going around independently, I’d urge you to reach out to any of the many organizations that exist and are anxious to help you.

Participating in an Accessibility Walk

I’m writing this Blog for two reasons.  First, some folks said I should share when I do interesting stuff.  Hopefully you think that is what this is. The better reason is that you may want to seek such an event where you live.

Our county health department person in charge of their active living program created this event to which I and others were invited to participate.   

The purpose was to expose city and county officials to the everyday, real-world experiences that people with various physical and mental different challenges as they negotiate our downtown streets and sidewalks.

It turned out that I was the only blind or low-vision person invited.  There were 2 people with physical disabilities using their own equipment–one a manual wheelchair and the other a power wheelchair.  I wished folks dealing with other challenges like hearing loss or who walked with difficulty could have been there too.

There was a bicycle/pedestrian advocate, one person who worked with a group that promoted independent living and another from a group helping those with brain injuries. The rest of the group came from city and county government.  They included one city council person, our mayor, the assistant city administrator, the fellow from public works responsible for sidewalks and, of course, the county public health person.

What made it all work was the consultant who led the effort.  They were an expert on such topics as the ADA, signal devices and what made sidewalks, driveways, intersections, traffic signals and curb cuts safe to use.

We left from the downtown library and walked 8 blocks out one route and back another.  During the walk, folks tried on the low-vision simulator glasses and the spare wheelchairs brought for that purpose.  I skipped both of them. <grin> :)

I had the chance to point out to the city folks how helpful contrast is to those with low-vision.  I was surprised to learn that none of them knew that. They asked if the “truncated cones” in the sidewalk by each curb cut helped.  I said that for me, they mostly helped because they contrasted with the concrete so I aim for them.

Some of us gave them an earful about the curb cuts that dumped you out into the intersection instead of directly into the crosswalk.  The audible crosswalk features also generated much discussion.

I left feeling that some good might come from this.  If it does, many people will benefit. Maybe this is something to consider where you live?


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My Experience with the Assistive Technology Challenge

For a number of years, a combination of organizations in my city has held a competition to encourage the development of assistive technology.  While my product didn’t seem to qualify last year, I was encouraged to apply. 

The instructions indicated that they were looking for software with an emphasis on the health field.  I again questioned the value of applying, yet the organizers encourage me to apply. With thousands of dollars being awarded, I decided to apply.  Surprise, I was one of six companies selected to deliver their “pitch”.

We each were allotted 5 minutes to make our pitch.  So, I used the 2-weeks prior to craft my words to address their list of questions.  I provided PowerPoint slides to describe my target audience, the market size and its growth potential. 

On the big day, the contestants were instructed on how the event would work and the order in which we’d appear.  I was third. I sat and listened to the first pitches. I listened with awe at the work that had been done and the potential for what these companies were offering.

When it was my turn, I greeted the panel and handed each a calendar as I explained why I started making this product.  Then I pointed out the design features that so appeal to my customers. 

I then called for the slides to begin.  As I went through my target markets, I included their current size and growth potential and my annual sales growth.  

The last question to addresses was how I’d spend the prize money.  I would use it to hire a sales or marketing person which has always been my greatest need.

The judges’ initial positive feedback made me think I had a shot; but it was not to be.  They then pivoted and didn’t see that the demand for a print calendar was very large and with cell phones everywhere, the market would continue to decline.

I did sell a couple of calendars at my table in the exhibit hall.  A few people dropped by with words of praise and encouragement. I made some good contacts with other tabling groups.  

The event reinforced what I had long ago learned.  To keep moving forward, you just have to find and make your own breaks and keep going; which I did. 

When Where You Are Is Not Where You Want To Be  

This Blog Post is quite different than my other ones.  This one came to me over time and seemed worth sharing.  I’m trying to put into words a philosophy for dealing with my vision-loss. It’s an attitude I’m trying to live by.   Perhaps it will strike a chord with you. Here’s how this thought came to me.

I have more trouble seeing now than I did about a year ago.  I have a couple of routes that I can walk to get to the store, the coffeeshop and downtown.  One is more shaded by trees than the other, so when it’s hot I take the more shaded route. While the coolness is nice, it is also darker.  A year ago, I could make out the curves in the sidewalk and paths where the shade was deepest.

However, this year I realized that I no longer could see the path in those shaded spots.  It was disheartening to face the reality that my eyesight had declined so much so fast. I stood there soaking in what this meant.  After a bit, with no visual clues, my handy long white cane found and kept me on the path. I slowly get past this and other sections and back on my way.  

Over time, I started to try and see beyond the deeply shaded sections.  If I could make out where the path picked up beyond these sections, I’d aim for them.   Combining confidence that comes from using my long white cane, some eyesight and this method, I’d get through these spots more quickly.  Later, I realized that if I could see someone on the path ahead of me, I’d try to use them as a moving target.

It was on one of those walks that it dawned on me that such a practice could be an allegory for the way one lives their life.  There will be times in our lives when we may feel lost, getting nowhere or unhappy with our current situation.

But if you have a big goal or a series of smaller goals, you have that spot in the path ahead to aim for.  If you don’t have such goals or if they are vague, work on them. Having goals and working towards them can be very helpful.

Image of Edward, owner of EZ2See

I also noticed that If someone was a bit ahead of me on the trail, I could use them to point the way forward. I translate this to mean, find or learn about someone who has walked a path similar to yours.  Especially if they are now in a “place” more like where you’d like to be. Guides, role models and mentors can make all the difference as you travel along your path.
Edward Cohen is the creator of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar.

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