Macular Degeneration and Me

Low Vision and High Hope


I’ve long thought that when you have any kind of debilitating disease or condition, patience and balance can just fly right out the window.  With mac degen, patience is hard to practice when you can’t see faces or read or low vision clouds your brightest thoughts.  And with balance you are talking, not just about the steadfastness of emotions, but of physical limitation.  Many of us with mac degen lose our contrast so walking on uneven ground is a real challenge.  I’ve had to train myself to realize if I think the sidewalk is flat, it isn’t.

The benefits of practicing both patience and balance are many……a peace-centered life, calmness, relaxation, less stress, better blood pressure and so on. But how do you overcome some of the obstacles?  I decided to talk to my good friend, Nick George.  Nick’s is a longtime trainer, an Aikido teacher with a 7th degree black belt so who better to talk about patience and balance?

Nick’s special perspective is that everything is a learning experience so he sees three principles that appear in everything we do.  He defines Patience as waiting for the right moment to act. This is interesting as it moves patience from a noun to an active verb, an action you can take.  Patience becomes less about controlling what I say or do than it does about the right time to act.

Nick defines Balance as knowing what to do when Patience determines the time is right to act.  Balance is all about knowledge coupled with understanding. The more we learn, the more balance we can achieve in our lives.  The more we see Balance in this light the less it has to do with controlling emotions.

But how do those of us with the physical limitation of balance apply these principles?  Well it took me some time but I think I have figured it out, at least for me.  I move quickly, I always have.  I get up fast, I jump into life every morning whether my eyes or body are ready; I read fast, I do tasks quickly, I can organize on the fly.  Both my Occupational Therapist and my Movement Therapist always urge me to slow down, take my time, there’s no rush when you have mac degen.  Safety is first.

So for me, the lesson is this:  Decide when to act and then act slowly and with the knowledge of my surroundings.  The more deliberate I am with my movements and the more I know about the ground I’m going to walk on, the more balance I have.  I now practice an exercise called Slow Walking.

Nick’s third principle is that of Relaxation, defined as letting things happen and not making things happen. When you have patience to wait for the right moment; the balance of knowing and understanding what to do and the comfort and trust to let it happen things go well.  But the hard part is overriding our wish to control it all.

BE PRO-ACTIVE:  ask yourself what you have to do to achieve Patience and Balance which will bring you to Relaxation?

My thanks to Nick George of Kinetic Symmetry for his insight and right-on perspectives.



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