Walking At Night

Tonight I’m walking home through our lanes. It’s just stopped raining, and I come to a kind of T junction, and as I near it I can hear footsteps.

But when I emerge at the junction nobody is there. I can still hear the footsteps coming closer, as though a ghost approaching.

Now—vaguely scared—I’m scanning from side to side to locate the origin of the phantom footfalls, and for several seconds I’m bewildered.

Then suddenly I can see someone after all. They were in my blind spot and as I tried to locate them my eye movements got it wrong. I skipped too far. But now my radar is locked on, I no longer have any difficulty.

Throughout I have absolutely no inward experience of blindness. Over the two years since I had a stroke I’ve learned to compensate very well, and the remarkable ability of our brains to paper over the cracks means I hardly ever now feel I can’t see things.

But although the cracks don’t bother me, they are still just as wide as ever. And that’s why it would never be safe for me to drive, and I have to be really careful when moving about in busy spaces. I need to watch where I put things down too, in case they mysteriously vanish. And I would be terrible on a glacier.

About partialinsight

One evening I had a stroke. Half my sight vanished overnight. Adapting made me grasp how amazing the visual system and brain are. It also taught me to understand disability completely differently and I'm grateful for the lesson.
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