by Eric Woods
From the Editor: This article is taken from the 2013 Holiday Issue of the Blind Coloradan. Included is the editor’s note written by Kevan Worley. Here is Kevan’s introduction:
Eric Woods is a longtime Federationist and a member of the NFB of Colorado board of directors. As a blind adult he has been an industrial arts instructor. He has worked as a counselor and role model for hundreds of blind youth. Many of our readers know Eric as a guitar player, singer, and songwriter. Eric regularly performs in the Americana group Stray Dog. We are thankful for Eric’s reflections during this time of celebration and Thanksgiving. Here is what he says:
It being the holiday season, and especially Thanksgiving, I find myself, as many of us do around this time of year, putting the giving of thanks that is in my heart into words. I've had what most people around the world would consider to be a blessed existence, at least comparatively so—decent up-bringing, opportunities, plenty of good food and friends, and sometimes more than enough beer. For all these things I am quite thankful. But as I get older, not only in my overall years of life but also in the increasing number of years which I have been blind, I find that my hopes for the future and my thankfulness for all I've been lucky enough to receive have simplified some. I imagine that this is not altogether uncommon.
When I was a little boy, I had such dreams: dreams that very few could ever obtain, but the stuff that makes youngsters bounce around and would likely lead to discouragement if I dreamt them at a later age. I wanted to win Wimbledon. I wanted to play second base for a World Series winning ball club. I wanted to be a rock star and have countless busty chicks trying to tackle me on the street. Nobody will be surprised to realize that not even a whiff of these or similar dreams came true, though I once was knocked over by two women coming out of a Walmart.
Gradually we all realize the differences between dreams and reality. I had given up the pie-in-the-sky sort of dreams for a regular existence, and I was fine with that. I was about where I wanted to be at that stage in my life when I went blind. After going blind, I wanted to be cured, and, God knows I would have been thankful. Of course I was cured shortly thereafter—at least I began the curing process, though I didn't quite understand how all that was happening at the time.
Initially I wanted my eyes back in good working order, but really that was just the physical cause of my problems, not the underlying manifestation of my situation. I wanted to feel normal again. It wasn't that I couldn't see a book or a newspaper; it's that I suddenly had no means of reading any longer. It wasn't that I couldn't see the grocery store; rather, it was that I had no way of getting there. I wanted to feel good about myself, and I didn't. I wanted to feel optimistic about the rest of my life, and I couldn't. I wanted to be a normal guy again, and I didn't know how.
God never chose to give me my sight back. Doctors couldn't medicate or operate my eyes back into usefulness. Scientists and engineers had no solutions. After some time of feeling despair and desperation, I did find a cure of sorts. My eyes are not healed, but the hole I felt in my soul over the loss of sight I experienced as a young man has been filled with countless caring men and women. I have known them for many years now. I am thankful for them. I feel good about myself. I read books and newspapers again and feel optimistic about my remaining time. I am a normal guy. Thank you, National Federation of the Blind, with all your individual, local, state, and national components. You have done this for me. I will never be able to thank you enough.