How My Blind Friend Taught Me to See
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Helen Keller
Twelve years ago, at the birthday party of a friend, was the first time I met somebody my own age who had a disability. He was tall for his age, thin, and wore eyeglasses, just like I did. It was this commonality that initially attracted me to him, since I didn't know very many kindergartners who wore glasses. I had begun wearing glasses to correct a case of strabismus at age two, and was able to see perfectly when I put them on. However, I was not aware of the fact that his glasses did very little to sharpen his vision, and that he was legally blind.
On the last day of second grade, at the unofficial annual picnic at Westland Hills Park, we became good friends. As we moved from the swings to the jungle gym to the sprinklers, I realized how much we truly had in common. We enjoyed the same things: Legos, swimming and being Cub Scouts. Throughout third grade, we spent nearly every weekend together. During this time, though I had been informed of his disability, I never made any differentiation between his abilities or personality and my own. Although I often helped to direct him when he didn't seem to quite have his bearings, I never doubted that his capabilities were similar to my own.
After that year, we were not assigned the same teachers for fourth grade, and unfortunately, we drifted apart. As we finished elementary school and I watched him from a greater distance, his disability somehow became more apparent to me. When other kids asked me if I knew him, I would think of him as the boy who couldn't see well, or the one in the class who had to read large-type books. Why was I doing this? In part, it may have been because I was forced to look at his situation with less subjectivity. Perhaps it was because I began to recognize there...