I read this post from Renard’s World which reminds us to remember the “Why” behind the choice to start blogging. It struck me, because I have the desire to write this blog, and I feel disconnected from it when I do not write for a while. But I have never really thought about the specific question about “Why” I would want to do this at all in the first place.
I am not much of a journal writer. Somehow writing in a journal with the idea that nobody, not even myself, will ever read it, does not inspire me enough to stick to it. I have so many little notebooks and journals scattered about, each with a few pages written determinedly in them before they were abandoned to the pile of partially used journals. Does anyone have that tendency to like buying new journals more than actually writing them? I have tried morning pages, I have tried prompts, I have tried all kinds of methods to get me to keep journaling, believing that there is some virtue to be found in the practice. But to no avail. I’m simply not one who journals.
But this is different somehow right? I feel in my heart a little bit of desire to have this blog of mine be well read. I do not have any social media like Twitter or Facebook or TikTok or any of that. I have no instagram feed. I think that this blog makes me feel like I am connected to the world at large, that there is some sort of “good human peer review” process that naturally occurs when we make our statements public.
Sometimes when I am dealing with a difficult situation involving multiple people, I like to write a single email addressed to everyone involved. This way I am certain that I am saying the same exact thing to everyone involved. Otherwise, in one on one conversation, I feel a tendency to avoid the discomfort of saying things that will disappoint the other person. So in talking to one party at a time, I might soften my words, or avoid conflict, or tell them not to worry about something that maybe is actually worrisome. And then in talking to another party, I might soft sell other issues that are important to that other party. So everyone gets a little bit of a different message because of the natural tendency to avoid conflict. This is a subconscious process right?
So by writing one message, then I have to stand by the same words to everyone. Blogging is like that. I can get called out if I say inconsistent things. Blogging requires a certain degree of integrity.
I have been thinking of this in relationship to my driving lesson this afternoon. When I first saw the Ophthalmologist a couple weeks ago, and he mapped out my visual field, he said that it’s up to me if I want to drive, but that I might have some liability due to my limited vision. So this kind of left me in a Catch 22 situation. I could not determine whether I am safe to drive without driving, and the cost of an error could be an accident. How could I figure this out?
Well I wrote about this in the blog. I could not drive to figure out whether I can drive. Catch-22 right? But then I was in traffic behind a car that had a sign mounted on the roof that said “Caution Student Driver.” The car had dual controls so the instructor could take over at any moment. I realized that I could sign up to drive around for a couple of hours with a professional whose job it is to sign off on people that are safe to drive. And for the last several days, I have been sitting in the passenger seat whenever I am in a car, and I have been careful to observe how I would look and see and drive.
So my lesson in driving is this afternoon. I will write about the result, and I am confident that driving will not be difficult with my condition. The simple reason for this is that I can see everything I need to see with the visual field that I now have. I simply need to cast my gaze a little farther to the left to make sure no one is approaching from the area that I do not see.
This area is actually smaller now that it was two weeks ago. Now if I hold up my hand in the middle of my blind spot with my fingers all splayed out so that my thumb is pointing as far away from my pinky finger as possible, I can see the end of my thumb on the right side of the blind spot, and I can see the tip of my pinky finger on the left side. Also, I see pretty well below the horizon. I have learned and practiced to dart my eyes a little up and left, and then back again, to check to make sure my blind spot is clear.
The visual test they did required me to look with only one eye at a time, and to lock my gaze at a fixed point in the middle of a bright white half sphere, and then click a button whenever I detected a very brief flash of a very small and dim point of light. This measurement is good for a frame of reference, but it really has nothing to do with the real world. If the machine had lights that moved and persisted, and if i could use both eyes and move my gaze, I’m sure I would have no trouble finding all of the lights. It’s about function in the real world.
My wife Stephanie is functionally blind in her right eye. This is not exactly the same as my condition, but it is very similar. It effectively limits her peripheral vision on the right, which is the same as me. It is perfectly legal to drive with one eye, and my ability to see on the road is not any worse than that. So the question is how can I adapt?
So what does this have to do with Why I am blogging? By writing things out as I go along, I have to keep my stories straight. I have to be accountable for what I said then, and what I am saying now. Back then, I was faced with the diagnosis that I had had a stroke caused by a blockage of an artery that came about when a blood clot passed through the Patent Foramen Ovale between my atriums and plugged an artery in my brain. From this event little recovery is possible.
But it turns out that I had a cerebral vasospasm, and this condition is different from a stroke caused by a blocked artery. And this means that the blood flow to part of my brain may have simply impaired the function of some of my neurons. It may have permanently damaged some part of my brain, but it’s not as permanent a condition as a blood clot.
And also, I am taking driving lessons in a dual control car, so that I can have an expert observe my driving and give me the green light that I am safe. In fact, I may actually be a safer driver now than before because I intend to be super fastidious about obeying every traffic rule. Also, I’m going to be the annoying driver who does not pull out into the middle of the intersection on yellow lights, and who does not make right turns on red into busy traffic. I’m going to stop completely at all four way stops, and also stop completely at yield signs before entering traffic circles. I am going to be very careful before crossing pedestrian walkways on the sides of roads and also cross walks.
With these safe practices and with a little extra scanning to the left, I am confident that I will be fine. But if I am not safe, the instructor will be able to see that.
And so by blogging about all of this, I make a record of my recovery.
But it’s more than that. I also have this urge inside me to share about my life and the lessons that I am learning. I want to be able to express these things freely and to share them authentically, but at the same time, I do not want to ask or expect anybody to read them. Instead, those who are interested may read, and those who are not are free not to.
This blog is my song to the universe and it is shared by those who are free to read it, and also free not to read it. But by putting it all down in writing, there is some element of integrity that must run through everything.
Schmarya Space Shalom