Living with a disability, such as in my case being blind, unquestionably comes with its challenges. However, it is important to recognize that humor and resilience can also be found in such situations. In fact, humor can serve as a powerful tool for coping with life's difficulties, fostering acceptance, and embracing the unexpected.
Poet Ella Wheeler wrote : "laugh and the world laughs with you..."
I am a firm believer that when there are uncomfortable situations, challenges or those ‘what do we do now” moments laughter and humor are amazing tools for coping, “normalizing" and unifying.
When I speak to children about disability, including my own children and grandchildren, I always say it is okay to laugh with me, but not at me. I wanted to share personal anecdotes that highlight the lighter side of being blind, showcasing moments of humor and resilience in the face of adversity, because there are funny situations and stuff does happen and frankly stuff happens to all of us disabled or not.
So, I share here a few of those stories and invite you to laugh with me because while they may not have been funny in the moment, they are definitely funny now!!
One of the most humorous moments in my life as a blind individual occurred when we got a new puppy. We already had a very elderly dog and I knew he would not be with us much longer, but I had my 8-year-old son who really wanted a second dog in preparation for the loss of coco our elderly lab. My husband didn’t want a second dog as much of the responsibility fell on him, but my son promised he would take responsibility (lesson one, 8-year-olds lie). One night as we were all in bed, I heard the puppy crying by the back door and I ran downstairs barefoot to let him out when suddenly I stepped in a very fresh (and not too be too descriptive warm pile of poop. I literally didn’t know what to do – there was poop on my feet, between my toes on the Bottom of my pajamas, I couldn’t do anything but scream and scream I did! I couldn’t walk forward or backward without tracking poop through the house and all I could do was stand there and cry until my husband and son came running down to see what was going on. Let me just say stepping barefoot in a pile of fresh poop is a feeling you never forget even now 15 years or so later it takes no real imagination for me to conjure up that feeling. Once I got cleaned up and the house got cleaned up, I was able to find the humor in it and to this day it is one of the funnier of my blind stories.
Years ago we took our kids and grandkids to the children’s museum. We drove downtown, parked the car and walked to the museum and while standing in line my son suddenly asked me why I was wearing two different shoes. I was mortified! I had bought a pair of shoes that were comfortable and easy to put on and since I liked them so much in black, I had decided to buy a second pair in brown. At first, I was mortified and I made every attempt to hide my feet or even take off my shoes when we were sitting, until I decided to just embrace it and I walked around telling my kids and grandchildren it was a fashion statement. It took me a little bit to get there, but it definitely became a very funny story that I tell often and trust me I’ve learned 2 lessons; first, do not buy the same shoes in 2 different colors and when in doubt ask someone before you leave the house if you are wearing the same shoes.
In a more recent experience, I was going out to dinner with a friend. I was standing on the driveway waiting for her to drive up and even before I could get into the car, I could hear her laughing hysterically, and then I heard her say “I won’t tell anyone, but you are wearing your pajama top." Although I had asked my husband earlier in the day before I was going out what color shirt, I was wearing it never dawned on me to ask if I was wearing a t shirt or pajama top so either he didn’t notice or it wasn’t the question I had asked so when he responded it was blue, I just went on with the day blue was perfect. I had had a doctor’s appointment, a couple zoom meetings and did them all in what I thought was my blue t-shirt until that is that I got in the car and my friend told me I was wearing my pajamas, but knowing I was uncomfortable she told me not to worry about it no one would notice because the only reason she even did was that when she had mentioned to me she had just bought a new soft comfy pair of pajamas I ordered the same one. I certainly could have and would have gone back in the house to change had my friend told me they were obvious pajamas, but since they weren’t I just went with it and we are still laughing about it. This incident highlights the power of embracing and finding joy in unexpected moments, even if it means unintentionally wearing sleepwear to a social outing.
Another funny incident which if I’m honest I think has happened more than once is while looking for something in the fridge an orange fell out of the refrigerator. I didn't want the dog to get it, so I had to find it. I thought I had heard the direction it fell in and so I swept my foot gently around the floor to locate it. Every time I touched it with my foot the damn orange rolled away. Like an idiot I spent around 5 minutes chasing that stupid orange around the kitchen until I found it. I finally, sweating and out of breath, said the hell with it and waited for either the dog to find it or someone to come home and find it. The good news was the dog was so darn lazy he didn’t even make an effort to find it!
Gardening in the backyard of my new home, I encountered a moment of disorientation when I misplaced my cane, which I took out to the yard because it was relatively new environment and the yard is somewhat strangely configure. As I tried to find my way back to the door I got totally turned around and couldn’t figure it out. Always taking my cell phone with me and knowing my husband was working from home I called him and asked if he could come get me. He asked where I was to which I replied, the back yard and when he came out, I was so far afield of the door that we had a good laugh about it- and truth be told in the last 30 years of being blind that isn’t the only time something like that has happened!
There have been many bumped nose situations, knocks on my head, scraped body parts some with funny stories and as my grandmother would say poo poo poo no broken bones, but I have learned over the years to not sweat the small stuff, to embrace the humor and the foibles of life.
When I have a particularly embarrassing moment related to my blindness my knee jerk response is often to berate and judge myself, but then I remind myself of some of the funny stories I have heard perfectly sighted, able-bodied people tell, like walking out of a bathroom with their skirt tucked into the back of their underwear or knocking glasses of water over in restaurants and I have learned that finding humor in situations is healing, and more importantly I find it puts others at ease.
Humor is a great equalizer and when I can find the humor in what didn’t feel so funny in the moment and I can laugh at myself people are more at ease and willing to laugh with me.
By embracing the funny moments and sharing them with others, we create connections and foster acceptance. So, let's continue to find joy in the unexpected, laugh at ourselves, and invite others to join in the laughter.