Written by Danyel Goldsmith

In the last year I have been told that I am amazing more times than I can count, and I am a smart woman, so I can count to a pretty big number. So I got to thinking, what makes something or someone amazing? The dictionary defines amazing as: causing a strong emotional reaction because of unexpectedness.

For the first 41 years of my life, I fully admit I have seen, done, and experienced amazing things. I have surfed the Hawaiian waters, jumped off a 40-foot cliff and an hour later was shark cage diving. I have white water rafted Class V waters in Costa Rica and dined in 5-star restaurants on 4 different continents. I have felt the walls in Mayan ruins, smelled the Japanese incense in at the Golden Temple in Kyoto walked the streets of ancient Rome, and have checked off 393 of the 1000 Places to See Before You Die. I have also worked in radio professionally, interviewed the “Godfather of Soul”, James Brown, driven over 125 mph in a convertible on the AutoStrade in Italy and have umpired Jr. Olympic fast-pitch National Championship game in which I would have gotten hit in the face with a 100 mph fastball if I had not had the facemask on!

Those are some pretty big things and I smile at all those amazing memories.

Just because I have experienced, seen and done those things, does that make me amazing? I certainly do not think so. Those things were there before me and are there after me. Well maybe except for James Brown.

So what have I done in the last year that makes me amazing? I have undergone 6-hour brain surgery for a walnut size tumor that severed my optic nerves where they cross and left me 100% blind, I have moved back into my house where I live alone with my cat Romeo, who is more like a son than a pet. Like you I do household chores like the laundry, taking out the trash, doing the dishes, and cleaning the litter box. Showering and getting dressed is no big deal, I even match my clothes with the help of a little device that tells me what color blouse and pants I have selected for the day.  I have on occasion put my undies on backwards, but I quickly noticed and turned them around correctly.

My cooking is not only good enough for me to eat, my neighbor and co-workers like the spicy food that I give them. In the past year I have learned to walk with a white cane and walk around my work space without hurting myself (mostly). Within the last two months I  have learned to  and have ventured out  to the food court to get coffee, lunch, and even a  couple of cookies. At work I write emails, analyze data, write memorandums, read boring policy, hold meetings and supervise and manage a staff and a branch.

All that sounds to be pretty normal, and nothing that you would not do. Yes, I am blind and I do some things much different than I did a year ago. But am I amazing? I do not think so. I think I am normal. Well, not so much, but I have a lot of folks fooled.

I think the intent of what is meant is that the drive, determination, and will to not let a life-changing event kill the spirit; that evokes strong emotion and astonishment. That is amazing. But, on the other hand, it is my normal.

Maybe what people mean by amazing is that what we as blind people do and see as being normal is outside of their imagination and paradigm. I know I was one of them and now I am one of us. Maybe that is just another part of the process to acceptance of the new normal.

Now aside from debating with myself and playing devil’s advocate to my amazingness or normality, let me sum this all up. Blind or sighted, I have always been amazing. It is my nature and part of my charm. I welcome the reinforcement and accomplishments because aside from all the convincing that I am normal, this blind stuff is hard.