I always felt I should possess some amazing talent to reconcile my missing rods and cones. Perhaps if I stood out as a musician, athlete, or scholar, I would not stand out for my lack of vision.

My parents took me to voice lessons with a nice, old nun in a dark, scary convent when I was eight. Yet “Go Tell It On The Mountain” practiced 50 times over did not improve my voice. I auditioned for the Young Naperville Singers in hopes of improving, but the director said she had heard kindergartners who could hold notes better than my third grade voice. That ended my hopes of becoming a female Stevie Wonder!  I also tried my luck at cross-country, a fabulous sport where there is no unforeseen ball to smack you in the face.  I was a good runner, but didn’t stand out as the one who won the races, and in my narrow vision of compensation I wanted to be that winner.

I think we’re taught this type of compensation in America. If you’re not right-brained, you better be left-brained: and if you’re not left brained, you sure as heck better be right. If you’re both, you’re blessed. If you’re neither, there’s something terribly wrong. If you’re lacking in looks, you better have a superbly gregarious personality. If you have no personality, you better at least be a genius. And on it goes.

I’ve come to learn that we should pay attention to our strengths, but we shouldn’t rely on them to block out our weaker areas. Our challenges will still be there, and we must deal with them. Our equation of wholeness is oftentimes flawed-a visual impairment is not a -50 and a great voice is not a +50. A visual impairment could be a +10 and a great voice a -25, depending on how they are used to shape and teach us and those around us.