Many of you that know me, know I was born legally blind. But for those who don't, let me explain what that means a little better.
It means that my childhood was blanketed with trips to doctors who would poke, prod, and examine every inch of my eyeballs. It meant dilating my eyes often, which to this day is one of my least favorite experiences. I would compare it to voluntary drill work at the dentist. A necessary evil if you will? But this was all mostly because my parents were amazing in seeking every bit of assistance they could get for me to supplement my "one in a million" condition. But as a kid your only real thought is "here we go again," simply because you just don't understand your parents are trying to help you.
I have what's called Type Two Albinism coupled with an nystagmus and astigmatism. That's all a fancy way of saying I have a rare disease where my eyes shake, I burn in the sun, and I really don't see that well. Oh, and there's no cure (yet).
Its honestly a story I haven't told much in my adult life, but that I told a million times in my childhood. Kids are kids, so there was a lot of "why do your eyes shake?" Or "why are you so pale?" Or one of my personal favorites "what's wrong with you?" And each time I tried the best I could to explain my affliction. But I gotta be honest, it made me grow very weary having to always explain something I couldn't control. I couldn't feel my eyes shake, they just did (and still do). I didn't know why my skin burned so easy, it just did (and still does).
I share this with you because it leads me to the realization I had this week. Through my experience as a kid I developed a very unique conversation skill, one that I'm now trying to change. I realized exactly why I haven't had to explain this story in my adult life very much. I have perfected the skill of being engaged in a conversation without ever making eye contact with someone. Its actually a very hard thing to do when you think about it.
If you talk to someone and they won't look you in the eyes, what's your first thought? This person is either dishonest, really shy, or hiding something right? None of which describe me. But I figured out a weird loophole as a kid. You don't have to look someone in the eyes to be engaged. But you do have to look "at" their eyes. Sounds weird right? Its merely a parlor trick at best though. I developed this innate ability to know when a person was looking at me, and the second they looked away is when I would look directly "at" their eyes. Their eyes move back to mine and I instinctually move them in a direction where my "shaking eyes" wouldn't be detected. In this way I could successfully avoid the question of "what's wrong with you?" And I've done so successfully for many years now it seems.
But as I've realized this about myself, its not something I'm not particularly proud of. Mostly because I love looking at my son and my wife's beautiful eyes and I don't like feeling the need to look away out of fear. And my son has never asked me yet "why do your eyes shake daddy?" Which tells me I'm still great at this useless talent of mine. But I've done it for so long now it took me until this week to realize it. So I'm changing it. One conversation at a time.
And I actually look forward to the day my son asks me about it now because I have long embraced who I am. I own my story and I'm still writing it (no pun intended). So I look forward to sharing my experiences with my son and hope it helps to guide him.
Never be afraid to grow. Never be afraid to change. Never stop seeking a better version of yourself. Truly great people never stop learning.
"Sunglasses at Night" by Corey Hart