have you ever played the game of "which sense would I rather not live without?"
I've had this discussion with myself ever since I was a kid. taste, smell, and touch aren't really even in the game: it always comes down to a tussle between sight and sound.
I think of classical music when this topic arises, and of sunsets and star-filled skies. I think of gurgling brooks and waterfalls crashing down steep canyon walls, and my children's voices.
I usually end the mental exercise in a state of "I give up," because there is not an acceptable answer. sight wins, but by such a slender margin that it makes my teeth ache to even make this statement.
there are blind cyclists. there are deaf cyclists. and there are blind-deaf cyclists.
while I hope to never become a member of any of those groups, my heart expands just thinking that they exist.
this morning, riding under the star laden sky of a new moon, I became a blind cyclist for moments.
on a gradually rising road that I know like the back of my hand, top speed about ten mph (though I couldn't see my cyclometer because it was dark), I closed my eyes and pedaled. I felt the wind, I focused on the turn of my pedals, the push of my quads. and then popped my eyes open to check for safety.
and then closed my eyes again. pedaled, felt the air, the cold, the ripeness of morning, the slight incline of the solid road beneath my wheels.
opening my eyes again took effort. I wanted to stay in that place of different awareness.
not forever, but for longer than I dared.
there are a million different experiences out there, and I am to live just one of them. just one. I have a desire to know different lives, different experiences, different paths, and perhaps this is why I read so much: how else can I begin to know what others go through in their lives? cycling stirs my thoughts, and has exposed me to many new things, but I am still me, living my own life, my own journey.
I don't wish to lead a different life, but I find great joy in learning new things and experiencing the unfamiliar. not for the thrill of it, but for the deepening of my awareness. okay, sometimes the thrill is great, too.
like this morning. in the dark ~ the absence of light ~ and in the dark ~ the total lack of vision. for brief moments, I felt what a blind person might feel while riding on the back of a tandem. for those moments, I had a sense of what it might be like to be my son, cruising through a world without visual clues to make sense of it.
I loved it, during my momentary visit, and I am thrilled that someone decided to try having a blind person sit behind a sighted person on a tandem bicycle.
if I were to lose my sight, my hearing, my capacity to pedal a bike, I hope that I would continue to seek opportunities to experience the world through "adaptive" means. that I would keep finding ways to fill my life with dark cold mornings and warm sunny afternoons, with rainstorms and blazing heat and snowflakes and crunchy leaves.
and, most importantly, whether it be the people from SPLORE, or from Common Ground Adventures, a friend, or a partner, I hope that someone would care about me enough to be my "pilot" on the front seat of a bicycle built for two.