Day 37-Quarantine-Social Isolation

There is a huge difference between social distancing and social isolation. I am involved with a group of blind people who often find themselves in the isolation category. What ever form of vision impairment they have it overwhelms them. Of course someone who is blind from birth is in a different category, but people who have aged into blindness have problems dealing with the isolation it brings. I often think about how I would react to living in the darkness all the time. I practice at bedtime when I shut the lights off and try to navigate around the house. I still have the advantage of sight and when my pupils open large looking for light even the darkness is navigable

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I have on occasion been camping in the wild when there was no moon, and the darkness is total. That is scary dark. Even with very wide open eyes one can not see anything but stars. One night after going to bed I was awakened by owls hooting in the trees behind my house. I snuck downstairs and scanned the dark sky looking for anything, but it was so dark I couldn’t even distinguish the tree line from the sky. Only the hoot pointed me in the direction of the bird. I was convinced that I knew where this creature was but he suddenly became quiet. I stared at the trees in front of my windows and then I felt something, a presence. I swear the owl lifted off his branch and glided over me to another tree. I swore that my wide open eyes saw a darkness about six feet wide glide overhead. I’m sure the owl saw me in technicolor, but I needed radar to see him.

In a few minutes I will join a Zoom meeting of OASIS a support group for the visually impaired. Since COVID-19 began they had to quit meeting at the community center and took to Zoom. Even though they cannot see each other well they react to the voices, and the chatter between individuals. The mood change is instantaneous. Those whose sight is totally gone join by phone and those with partial sight join via computer, and turn on the cameras. We have a jolly good time kibitzing. What is really funny is to watch individuals snacking away or picking their nose, or what ever.

Kim, who runs the group is excellent at what she does and opens with a inspiration reading from her bible. then she will begin asking questions she has prepared like, “what part of being blind depresses you the most?” It takes a few minutes to get warmed up, but that one question provides an outpouring of loneliness. I don’t think Kim has ever gotten past two or three questions before it was time to end the session.

Twenty years ago, when I was prepping myself for retirement I began making lists of what I would do with my time. The lists generated some great new goals, Writing children’s stories was on of them. I told myself that after spending ten hours a day for forty years with people that being alone might require that I seek out people to socialize with. Here are some of the ideas I had and use to this day: go to the grocery store, you always see people in the stores, go to the library, my favorite because I have gotten to know the people who work there and often run into a friend. People need people to live with and to maintain their sanity. OASIS is such a group of people who are seeking like minded people to talk to and to share problems with. Thankfully, with today’s technology such as the telephone, texting, e-mails, Zoom, Skype etc. there are many ways to keep from becoming totally isolated. Even blogging is a form of socializing. I have blog friends who I reply to as often as I can, it makes me feel connected. So comment on the blog sites you visit and you may wind up becoming socially connected.

One Response

  1. In school, many many years back, when we were introduced to simple essay samples, many of them would begin with, “Man is a social animal.” Through isolation and quarantine, I think that facet remains. It is difficult to put yourself into shoes of people who have grown into isolation on account of a condition like creeping visual impairment.

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