USING WHAT YOU HAVE
When people observe or learn that I am blind, quickly their minds go to what I cannot do. Or rather, what they suppose I cannot do because I cannot use my eyes. To them I cannot drive, I cannot match my clothes, I cannot cook, I cannot walk up and down steps, I cannot answer for myself, I cannot hear, and I cannot have children. They don't usually express their thoughts of impossibilities in direct terms such as "you can't." The negativism is in their questions, actions, and reactions. For example, I have been asked, "Who dresses you each morning?" Often men will grab my arm as I am trying to walk down steps, say, on a bus, and with each step down they raise my arm higher as though to hold me up. Female flight attendants automatically grab my carry-on bag to place it in the overhead bin. People talk louder to me because I am blind--that is, if they decide to talk to me at all. Generally, they will talk to the person who is accompanying me. And I have actually encountered people who are surprised when I tell them I have four children.
It is true that I cannot use my eyes to do the everyday activities of a typical life. Yet, I can dress myself, I can shave, I can cook. I work su doku and kenken puzzles. I needlepoint. I have driven a car. I have flown an airplane. Through my experiences I have learned that success in achieving ones goals and living a meaningful life does not come from focusing on what you don't have. It comes from using what you do have.
What assets do you have?
Go ahead. Make a list of what you have, and be sure to add to the list the following four items: Purpose, Paths, Power, and People.
You have purpose. You have a role to play in the completeness and sustenance of the universe. Your role is at least as important as the role played by the sun, wind, rain, plants, animals, and minerals. The difference between you and the other elements of creation is that you have a choice. You get to choose whether or not you will fulfill your purpose.
Threaded through your soul is your unique purpose, which is woven into the design of the universe. You have a unique role in completing the color, texture, and beauty of life's tapestry. Because purpose is soulful, it doesn't matter the condition of the body. Men and women have purpose. Purpose is not negated by the color of your skin, the texture of your hair, the height of your frame, or the mass of your form. Notwithstanding your visual acuity, you have purpose. No matter the method of your mobility, you have purpose. Your mental functioning, expanded or restricted, does not affect purpose. Your physical and mental capacity only determine the means by which you fulfill your purpose.
While your purpose is unique to you, it has a universal dimension. Universal purpose concerns your life's benefit to others and to your physical surroundings. That purpose is a universal one because it reaches beyond self in recognition that our lives are intertwined. Universal purpose is your assignment of responsibility for the piece of the universe that you are. Everyone and everything that comes in touch with you should be enhanced, not diminished, by the connection. You can use your purpose to set your course, make your choices, and act in connection with your purpose.
You have paths. By this I mean that options are always open for you to choose the direction of your life. Right now you are on a path. Hopefully, the path leads to where you want to go. If it doesn't, you can change your direction. Every time you have the opportunity to make a decision, you have two fundamental choices: To continue on your current path or to go in another direction. If you unconsciously act by rote, routine, and habit, you will continue on your current path. If it is a trip with which you are satisfied, that's just fine. However, if you are not satisfied with what you are doing, you must make a conscious decision to do something different.
Change ... any change ... will get you on a new path. You can make sudden and drastic changes, and you should if your current path is leading you to disaster. However, you can make a small change. The slightest nudge will change the trajectory of your flight. Over time, you will see how your path diverged from the original course.
It is important that you stay in control of your life's journey. You will encounter many forces that can knock you off course. You shouldn't let peer pressure or parental pressure or societal expectations take control of your decision-making. You can listen to advice, but ultimately make the decision that fulfills your purpose.
If you take your eyes off the path--that is, if you lose focus on where you want to go, you will be distracted by the allures of pleasure, money, praise, and the like. These may offer happiness, but it will be temporal. You may end up regretting that you allowed them to pull you off your path.
You have power. That power is not in your arms, your legs, or your eyes. The power that one has to succeed, to win, or to live meaningfully is not physical capacity, prowess, or strength. The power is in your mind. You ignite your power with the single thought "I can." I-can fuels drive. You will not even attempt a task until you believe that you can do it.
Negativity and doubt diminishes the power that you have. If faith the size of a grain of mustard seed can move mountains, it only takes doubt the size of a grain of mustard seed to negate that faith. Your negative and doubtful thoughts are often evident in your language, so watch what you say. Eliminate from your thinking and speech phrases such as: "I can't." "It's too hard." "I don't have ... (the time, the education, the experience, the money, the skill, etc.)" It's impossible."
You have people. More important, you need people. Even with your purpose, paths, and power, there is nothing that you will do that does not involve other people. This being true, you should choose to be with the people who can support and will facilitate your living the life you desire. Surround yourself with people who are like-minded--those who regularly express their I-can thoughts. Connect with people who are doing what you do (or want to do) so you can learn from their experiences. Establish relationships with people who possess talents and skills that you don't have; you will need their help at some point. AND be willing to give to the people from whom you'd like to get.
If I asked you to make a list of what you don't have, you would be writing for quite a while. You might even write "time." You don't have the time it would take to make such a list. Besides, there is nothing you can do with what you don't have. So I won't ask you to make such a list. Focus on what you do have. When you consider that you have purpose for your life, options on the paths your life can take, the power to achieve what you set out to do, and people who are willing and able to assist you, there is no reason why you cannot live a meaningful and joyful life.