Within the humid and subtropical climate of Florida, Everglades can be very common. They refer to a region of land which is quite swampy, with many hidden ecosystems thriving underneath the depths of such marshy grounds. Living in such environments of course is quite a challenge for those who attempt it, though not entirely impossible. Many native American tribes were forced to escape into these areas of the state, particularly during the Spanish and American battles of expansion.
I do fervently wish during such wonderful spring-filled times that I might write purely about the unique species which can be found in these uninhabited parts. While I have no doubts that such an article might drive many minds to bordem, dear reader, I also understand that such plain writings are most likely not within the expectation of those who read them. Yet as much as there exist unique species within your typical Everglades, so are there many areas of our lives which we as people consider our own personal swamp. Whether they are secrets which you have never shared with others, or something you might struggle with internally physically or emotionally on a day to day basis, you don’t have to go to Florida to find your own personal piece of the Everglades. Getting sucked in within one of these can lead to severe mental discomfort, or in the case of the topics which I am about to construct, a sense of risk and mis-understanding.
“great!” you might be thinking. “This article is already set up to be a negative land of complaints, things which might be internal struggles of a blind guy.” Not so. Recent developments at work as well as some other incidents within my own life have made me deeply consider the Everglades of blindness, which can be just as rich as any ecosystem of animals and plants. For the purposes of brevity, I will only discuss two of these. Both will be a challenge to extract to the surface, yet both shall cause a flutter of thoughts to ignite within your mind.
In the 1950s and 1960s, phone freaking was a passtime enjoyed by a few blind people. One of these great individuals was named Joybubbles, who made a name for himself by using various whistles to dial out-of-country numbers or trick any payphone he was passing to hang up the call. The term “phone freaking” of course was developed as a negative, as a type of stigma similar to “hacking” today but perhaps far less common. Joybubbles and many other blind people who followed and worked with him had an untapped potential: An intricate understanding of phonelines and systems. As a result, many phone companies could benefit from their hiring, as they could detect problems within the network that no other person could with sighted eyes.
Today, many employers still discriminate against those who have disabilities from the basis of what they might not be able to do at work. I would argue that there is, as of now, no real equal rise of a quality similar to phone freaking that a blind person might be recognized for by society. Yet there exist many odd and unique talents which only some from our population can perform. For example, I have distinctly memorized the hard-drive patterns made by a loading operating system, so that when I find a technical problem, all I have to really do is listen to where the hard-drive stops spinning. This technique is also usable with newer computers that use solid-state storage, although hearing the distinct sounds made by the flash transistors is much more difficult. A more common untapped potential relates to the abilities of many blind people to understand fast speech rates. This might make them ideal for interpreting and transcription work, or perhaps in areas such as auctions where fast-speech is quite common. Even still, not all people who are blind can understand the same level of rapidity; The cause of this level of comfort has not been greatly researched.
The final everglade of blindness is quite contrary. What, you didn’t expect me to insert an opposing position somewhere in this piece? There are many work-arounds that we do on a daily basis, and the abilities for us to be creative has no limits as a result. While I was completing my final job interview at my new work place, my boss brought up a page of administration panels. This page required that you hover your mouse over various choices to expand a menu below, a task quite difficult to do with a screen reader. When you pressed enter on the menu itself, it would simply reload the page rather than expand this structure. I had to be creative with finding a command that could position the mouse cursor and somehow expand this menu. This was possible to do with my screen reader of choice, but it was one of those moments where I had a challenge to complete which required a quick, adaptive response.
Each day I cannot tell you the countless times I invent such new ideas; From filling up a bottle of cleaning supplies from an even larger Costco-sized bottle, to understanding the amount of time bacon takes to be crispy within a toaster oven without becoming burnt. At times, we fail, and we laugh, but we also have the ability to then dust ourselves off and move on. This too cannot be fully applied to “every” blind person, as each will have their own comfort with adapting or being creative with solutions. I am only lucky to have a personality which thrives off such risks and adaptations. This is a negative aspect to the Everglades of blindness, although the perspective of whether to take it as a hardship is entirely yours to make.
Let me then briefly touch upon the entire opposite concept of an everglade. I consider myself to be in quite an interesting position, being a blind person who learned English at a later age and then immigrated to the United States into a new culture. It is only as of recent that I began seeing my status as a foreigner more as a positive quality to myself. American culture is not fond of immigrants to a great extent, so when I was interacting with others, this aspect of me I kept in shrouded shadows. My mind on this matter was greatly changed after being on dates with a girl who did place some significance to this cultural difference.
I began to draw internal questions to myself, ones which pondered such matters as to whether being Hungarian “changes” the way I might think in an abstract manner. We know language defines the way a person grows up and develops concepts as a child; Is it then not possible that some of the unique and well-treasured formations of my language directly impact the way I perceive my reality? Is this not a possibility for the hundreds of thousands of other cultures in existence? From taking cultural anthropology in college, I can directly tell you that the answer is yes. While no real examples come to mind at the moment, these are probably small yet add up to an interesting quality I never considered to exist with someone from a foreign land. These possibilities are quite far-reaching, and help me embrace myself to an even greater extent
I ask you this, dear reader. If the native Americans could migrate to the Everglades, than can you not overcome the thick layers of challenges in which you part take on a daily basis? Can you not discover your untapped potential, marketing it in a way that might be positive and not “odd” or “strange?” Are there fundemental limits in society which prevent you from doing either? I ask you this, dear reader. How has your culture impacted you in the way you view things within your life? The answers will be just as an expanse as baron land is, yet as complex as the beautiful Everglades of florida.