Monday, May 28, 2007

I Once Was Blind

I was driving down highway 400 to the second part of an Assertiveness Training course in Toronto last week, when I glanced up at one of those illuminated signs over the highway.

"Check Blind Spot Before Changing Lanes," it said.

I smiled to myself at the irony as it felt as though I had been doing nothing but checking blind spots ever since the first session.

The day was helpful to all of us in the class--I know it was to me.

Our instructor, Schelley, drew a diagram of the "Johari Window" and talked about the "four selves"--Open (known to others and self), Blind (known to others but not self), Hidden (known to self but hidden to others) and Unknown (to both ourself and others--subconscious). It was the "Blind" window that I had been discovering most about.

On the weekend I was listening to Fresh Air on CBC radio, and heard a wonderful musician--a high school teacher from Toronto, called Max Layton, who was talking about his new CD, Heartbeat of Time.

Max told how one day he was driving along the highway and he was about to change lanes. He checked his blind spot and didn't see anything, so he made the change of lanes, almost hitting a car, because he just didn't see it beside him.

Max didn't know it at the time, but he had a serious vision problem and he was losing his sight. He explained that when there is a blind spot in our field of vision, the brain actually fills in the missing information with what it thinks should be there. In Max's case, it was the pavement on the highway--only it showed it without the car that actually was there.

The disease of the eye that Max had, was Macular Degeneration. His ophthalmologist told him the grim news--he would gradually lose more and more vision until it was gone. He began looking at things with intensity--committing them to memory for the time when he would no longer be able to see. Some of what he saw, he expressed in music and the songs on his CD.

Amazingly for Max, the treatments he was given for the eye problem began to work and his eyesight began improving! Each visit he would try to read the chart on the wall, and he found that he could read more until the happy day when he could read the letter "x "on the bottom line.

As I heard Max's story, I thought of the parallels with my journey of discovery--my eyesight gradually recovering from its areas of blind spots. I know that this process will never end, but the treatment is in progress and I am on my way!

Philippians 4:6-7 (New International Version)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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