You’re So Amazing: Behind Stage at the Magic Show
Which of the following statements are you most likely to hear from someone you have just met if you’re blind?
- You’re so amazing.
- You’re so inspirational.
- You’re so courageous.
- I’m so sorry.
- All of the above.
This is a trick question because, despite the title of this blog, the correct answer is “e.” The one thing all of these answers have in common is that the speaker can’t imagine how you do the things you do. Easily, the most common question you get from someone who has just lost their vision or is in the process of losing it is “How do you…”
There are all kinds of things that can be inserted to complete the sentence. For example (and, yes, these are all frequently asked), “How do you know what socks you have on?” “How do you cook?” “How do you vacuum your house?” “How do you read?”
These, and a great many more, are perfectly reasonable. Since you’ve always done these things with vision and have probably never thought of how you would do them if you couldn’t see, someone who can do them, does them every day, and doesn’t think a thing about it really does seem amazing. In the beginning, however, it all seems overwhelming and hopeless, but it really isn’t.
To understand why, think of attending a magic show. When you are sitting in the audience watching the magician saw the woman in half or pull a rabbit out of the hat, how it is done really does seem amazing. You can’t imagine how it is done. If, however, you go behind stage after the show and have the magician demonstrate how the tricks are performs, the mystery goes away and everything seems obvious. Once everything is explained, you find yourself saying, “That’s so obvious. Why didn’t I think of that?” But, of course, it’s only obvious once the magic has been revealed. After that, what was previously amazing is relatively simple and uncomplicated.
Dealing with vision loss is the same. How someone does it seems amazing until you have the tricks explained. Then, the mystery goes away.
If all of this is seemingly minimizing the difficulty in mastering some exceptionally complicated skills, imagine if the situation were reversed; that is, someone who has always been blind suddenly has their vision restored and now wants to learn how to drive. You explain that you’ll need to learn how to steer, manipulate the gas and brakes, judge oncoming traffic, pay attention to traffic lights, read street signs, monitor your speed, check the gas gage, and do all of this while talking to your passenger, checking your GPS, and trying to ignore the children in the back seat. As someone who has never driven, being able to drive a car in traffic seems as amazing to me as what I do probably seems to most licensed drivers. I understand, however, that, once you’ve had the requisite training and experience, it’s not really all that amazing. The same is true of vision loss: once you’ve had the requisite training and experience, doing most of the routine things you have to do is not really all that amazing either.