Blind or Deaf?

6 years ago

Most evenings, you will find me in the moonlight, walking my horses one by one to the barn.  It's my favorite time of the evening, especially in the spring.  Stars twinkle overhead, horses nicker to hurry me, peepers call to one another, the cat twists at my feet.  I listen to the BBC on the radio as I shovel and carry water.  It is in the middle of the night there, and it gives me a non-American viewpoint.  Finally, I shut the doors as I hear the horses, finished with grain, start munching hay.


The sounds of my life.  And yet, were you to ask me if, God forbid, I had to choose between blindness and deafness, I would quickly answer I would rather be deaf.  Helen Keller is quoted as having said, "Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus - the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir, and keeps us in the intellectual company of man."   She was both, so had a unique perspective, yet perhaps because she was both, she had adjusted to both, and so her answer was colored by her lifetime experiences.

I have been asking people about me for their reaction to this question.  The answers sometimes come quickly.  My daughter, Lauren, a classical pianist and extrovert, quickly said she would rather be blind.  She could not lose music and talking to others.   Anna, my artist and friendly introvert, just as quickly decided she could not be blind over deaf. She could live more independently as a deaf person and technology and sign language could make up some of the challenges.  My husband, asked while in the middle of watching a TV show (my bad), answered quickly "blind", but during a commercial, rushed in to tell me he changed his mind - he could still play golf if he was deaf. As I continued to discuss it with friends and family, it became apparent that the things that were likely to cause the most loss in that person's life determined the answer.  A young girl that loves singing would, having to chose, be blind. Someone who loves to read, deaf. 

Myself, as I walked the horses to the barn in the dark, I was thinking of the difficulty, but not impossibility of caring for my animals without sight.  Yet, I value being able to do for myself and others.  Losing sight means less independence and ability to care for others.  Hopefully, if ever I have to face either, I'll rise to meet the challenge, but God willing, I hope not to have  the opportunity.

The question begs, however, what is important to you in this world?  Which would you choose?

Cathy at

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