Sips of Wine from the Grapevine Holiday Edition – Thankfulness
By Tony Candela
Here I sit, in my cozy little hide-away-hut with my dog snoring on his bed, wind and rain tapping a rat-a-tat-tat tune in the exhaust fan over the stove. The weather is perfect for holiday work so it’s with a grateful heart I share the next ‘Sips of Wine’ with you.
As you know, The Writer’s Grapevine Holiday Extravaganza Dec – Jan edition will soon be out but as with any grand affair, drinks are served.
Here’s author and public speaker Tony Candela with a magnificent piece on giving thanks.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, we think about things that tend to run in the background most of the time. Philosophically, I think there can be no thankfulness without scarcity or loss, or even tragedy to contrast with all the good. Without the dark side, we might not notice the light.
Hang in there with me as I say there is one thing I am not thankful for: my disability. Unlike most writings and interviews which depict blindness and other disabilities in the form of transcendence (rising from tragedy to glory), I hope that someday everyone will understand that the life of people with disabilities is a fully human one, containing a mixture of the good, the bad, and, yes, the ugly. I discuss these notions in my memoir “Stand Up Or Sit Out” (see below).
As for me, I have had 69 years to consider whether I am thankful for my disability. Sightlessness did not come to me all at once. Perhaps my experience, a mixture of sightedness; increasing loss of sight leading to total blindness; time to adjust both psychologically and by acquiring skills and ways of coping; and fear and frustration mixed with normalcy, is as typical as any others. After all, we are all different, so “different” is typical. Fear not, dear reader. There has been ecstasy, some from overcoming a fear or a frustration and others by the joy of achievement or a gift given to me by another.
Familiar with my own personality, skills, and weaknesses as I am, I know there are people who are better built to cope with lack of eyesight than I am. I crave information, lots of it and fast. I am not a natural explorer. I tend to be a slow adopter, waiting to proceed only when I have a grasp on a new thing. Over the years, I have occasionally dived headlong into things, taking jobs for example where I believe I have the background, but not much more. It always ended up a struggle, but at least I came to know I could survive these situations. But in all of this, I remain certain it would have been much less stressful if I had eyesight.
On the other hand, I am thankful for many things. I have been lucky to have had physical strength, good health, and feistiness, the latter having occasionally put me in hot water with friends, lovers, and yes, even employers. I am thankful for having my father for 55 years of my life, my mother for sixty-nine and my younger brothers throughout. I am thankful for the love of a beautiful woman and for all of the friends who have been in my life. I am thankful for financial security, a safe and warm place to live, and for the steady work-life I have had through the years. This is not trivial, for even today, more than half of people who are blind are unemployed or under-employed. All in all, except for a notable departure from the discipline of my athletic days, I am thankful for relatively good health.
I wish the same for all of you.
Anthony R. Candela, Author
Saying aloud what should not remain silent.
Books by Tony…
Stand Up Or Sit Out: Memories and Musings Of a Blind Wrestler, Runner, and All-around Regular Guy
A memoir about life lessons learned, especially through sports
Vision Dreams: A Parable
A sci-fi novella about how a dysfunctional society forces people to go to extremes, including four blind people who seek out artificial vision.
More About Tony…
Tony Candela has worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor, supervisor, manager consultant and administrator for more than 40 years in the field of blindness and visual impairment. His work has included promoting literacy and employment of blind persons and a special interest in enhancing the career preparation of blind persons who wish to work in the computer science field. He is a “retired” athlete, loves movies, sports, reading, writing, and music, including dabbling in guitar.