Braille Monitor                         July 2021

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Rise Up!

by Ronza Othman

Ronza OthmanFrom the Editor: Ronza is the president of our National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, but this is not her life. She does what she can for the rest of us, but she also makes sure to live a life that is integrated. Here is a bit of what she said to our convention in Maryland:

Recently, I had the opportunity to tackle an item from my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to go parasailing, but I could never quite do so. For those of you who might be curious, parasailing involves being harnessed to a large sail that resembles a parachute and being towed behind a fast-moving boat. The speed of the boat creates an air current that pushes the parasailer up several-hundred feet into the air.

I’ve experienced several obstacles to being able to parasail. Sometimes the weather didn’t cooperate and the wind was too strong to safely go up. Sometimes the water was too choppy or the current too strong to permit safe parasailing. Sometimes my travelling companions decided they wanted to do something else instead at the last minute. One time there was a traffic jam and we missed our appointment. Another time the wife of the boat’s captain went into labor.

Finally, a few weeks ago, the weather decided to cooperate; the current was perfect; my fellow travelers agreed to the experience come hell or high water; we stayed within walking distance from the marina where our boat would set sail; and to my knowledge my captain’s wife was not in labor. There was only one problem—I was recovering from the coronavirus and had virtually no energy to sit upright, let alone walk to the marina, board the boat, fasten myself into the harness, and swing myself back onto the deck of the boat when the sail ended.

But I was committed! I was going to literally rise up regardless of what it took. I dug deep and found the energy to walk to the marina; to board the ship; to find my balance as I stood on deck; to fasten my harness and emergency parachute; to step over rigging and lines, around the sail bar; and sit down on the deck of the boat at the very edge. Then, I rose. And it was incredible!

I spent about ten minutes atop the world. I felt the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, and the energy and joy pumping through my blood. Then the captain dipped me into the ocean, and I got seawater in my nose. But I rose up again and swung myself onto the deck—and for those of you who have been parasailing, I stuck the landing like an Olympic gymnast.

Why am I telling you all about parasailing? Because my experience is a great metaphor for what we in the NFBMD experienced this past year. Despite unprecedented challenges, we were determined to rise up, and we did! We don’t know how to do anything different as Federationists after all.

Andra Day’s song “Rise Up” includes the following lines:

I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And do it a thousand times again.

We in the NFBMD rise up unafraid, in spite of the aches, and we’ll do it a thousand times again.

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