Jared & Kerry

Sampling the Box of Chocolates

You Never Know What You Might Hear

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Elaboration of a Sort
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
I'm ranting. If you don't want to read that sort of thing, barely know or care to know me on a personal level, or were expecting Super Bowl commentary in this space, I advise you click away. You've been warned. I almost didn't even post it, 'cause it serves no useful purpose, but I shan't dare ruin one single person's night by dumping all this crap on them, so if I just dump it on the internet I feel like I've told someone and yet haven't brought any one individual down with me. I don't know if that makes sense. I don't care either.
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I have been advised, multiple times by multiple people, that I need to be more willing to ask for help. I have this fierce streak of independence about me. I don't know where I got it from, who nurtured it most while I was a kid, or at what point it went from wanting to be independent to being stubborn and cooking my own goose in the process. Maybe the dog did it. Maybe the blind school did it. Maybe my first VI teacher did it. Maybe my parents did it. Maybe all four. Maybe it was just me and some unfortunate firing of the wrong neurons. . Hell if I know.

I've come to find though that independence is not good enough for me. Independence means I do everything myself. That's a lonely, lonely path to travel on. And a hard one at that. Good teamwork accomplishes much more than even the most capable individual. Playing music has taught me this more than any other arena. Four virtuosos that don't develop some level of teamwork as great as four average musicians who're in each other's hearts and minds. "One band, one sound" and all that song and dance.

I guess what I really want is interdependence. I want to be able to give to others as much as they give to me. I want to be a valued player on the team, not dead weight that everyone else has to make up for.

But dead weight I am. You can sugarcoat it, justify it, explain it away with the challenges I have to overcome that not everyone has to deal with. But I don't want excuses. I want results. I want success. I want satisfaction. And I want them to be measured by the same sticks that everyone else is measured against. I don't deserve, nor do I get, a free pass because I have obstacles atypical from the average person's obstacles.

When I was younger, all the adults smoothed out the playing field. I never really realized they were doing it that much, but they did. Probably not even that consciously, to be honest. School is such a structured environment where it's easy to determine what will come next. That means I could more easily plan ahead and predetermine ways to isolate the tasks I had to accomplish into settings and situations I could easily take advantage of. They changed the rules of wrestling for the blind kid. They didn't penalize my team at band competitions when one of their percussionists sat in the corner during the sightreading portions of the affair. How many times did everyone else have to do a poster or draw a map that I was excused from doing, simply because, well, the idea of having me draw a map is just not that feasible.

You want to know what else is not that feasible? Being able to move around as well as my peers. Being able to keep my house in a state I'd feel comfortable presenting to others without spending so much time on it I have no time for anything else. Being able to cook a meal for myself (or maybe even *gasp* someone else) without it turning into a disaster. (Whoops , well, um, I think I can throw another frozen pizza in!)

To illustrate, consider the adventure that is setting up percussion gear for a performance. Make no bones about it, I don't do my share. Not for lack of trying. But when it comes time to put it up, it's just easier for someone with the vision to see all the pieces scattered around the percussion closet to round them up and assemble them in quick time so we can get rehearsing. I end up standing to the side, wondering what to do, seeing things become done the second after I identify them as a way for me to help. Other percussionists have the nerve to say, "Man, I wish I had a ready made excuse to not have to move so much of the gear." Oh, how quickly things change when you aren't expected to do them simply because you can't do them, or at least you can't do them as well as everyone else.

No matter what city I move to, no matter how good its public transit is, I will never, ever, ever be able to get myself and my drums from my house to a venue I am performing at. If I had to get my drums the four blocks from my current residence to campus, I'd have to enlist someone to drive me and my drums. It might as well be downtown. Or in Chicago. Or at the bottom of the sea.

There are a lot of nice, caring people in the world. But we live in a world where it's about getting things done. I find myself a detriment or liability to things getting done more than an asset. The saddest part of all is that always is and always will be what drives people away from me. The band might be the greatest group of guys in the world, but I'm naive to the point of stupidity to not think there's another drummer out there every bit as good as I am that doesn't need someone to come pick him up for every rehearsal and every gig. If I"m not blind, I'd be the laughing stock of the music community if I were the bum musician with no car. Maybe I am, they just don't dare vocalize it because of our politically correct societal tendencies.

This is the real world. Not every kid has to be picked for kickball anymore. And if someone can give as much as I can without incessantly taking like I do, it seems pretty obvious to me why noone wants me to be apart of anything. "Yes," they say, "I'm sure Jared could play this piece of music at my recital if I took the half hour to go over the score with him while he takes notes for later memorization." But that always is followed by, "But there's someone else that can play it just as well, and all I have to do is hand them these sheets of paper. And we'll have to set up all nonvisual cues if Jared's going to play it anyway, which is another additional complication. And will he be able to bring and set up all his own gear by himself?" Are they right? Yes. Should they probably get that more capable person, free of my adaptations, to play on the recital? Yep, I'd have to say if I were them, that's probably what I would do.

I think this is why as I've gotten older my ability to maintain relationships has taken an absolute nosedive. Your significant other, however serious that is, basically is your best friend in life at that point and time. Who wants to be best friends with someone who has a new place he needs driven to as soon as you park the car? Who wants to be best friends with someone for whom you have to run around Marsh for an hour helping him find his groceries? Who wants to be best friends with someone who can't keep their chips straight at poker because they all feel the same, meaning someone has to take on the extra task of keeping them straight for him? Who wants to be best friends with someone who does his damndest to vacuum up the dog hair that accumulates around the house, but both of you know he'll never actually get it completely done and you'll have to finish the job? Who wants to be best friends with someone who doesn't want to go out to the sports pub to watch the game, because there's no radio feed (or even an audibel TV feed most of the time.) Who wants to be best friends with someone when you know you're the one that has to take the journey back home by yourself, because he certainly isn't capable of getting himself home independently and thus permitting the roles to reverse once in a while? These things all seem fairly trivial on their own, but stack them up and then think about all the other people that're out there that don't come with these extra obligations or caveats. Can I blame people for looking elsewhere?

I wish I had something to offer that noone else did. Something that would make all the extra trouble I cause worth putting up with. But an intelligent dog, reading with your hands, and a computer program that talks beyond most people's comprehension is only cool at first. Once the novelty of the things I can do wears off, people start learning all the things I can't do. That list, I'm afraid, ends up being much longer.

If I really were as capable as everyone else, we wouldn't need things like the ADA forcing schools and employers and landlords to put a good face on having a blind student or employee or tennant. But the ADA doesn't apply to social situations. The ADA doesn't give me a way in when video games are the entertainment of the evening. The ADA doesn't apply to someone choosing from a large pool of people for a position plenty qualified people would like to have, be it professionally or personally. Everything I am apart of I have to force my way into, sometimes even make people feel guilty about not letting me in. Very, very rarely does someone say, "You know what, I want you and specifically you to fill this role in this musical endeavor, or this computer project, or this aspect of my personal life." On the rare occasions they do, the stench of pity nauseates me. I feel like the slower kid brother who the accomplished elder brother takes out once in a while with his friends just so their mother won't tell him off for excluding him. When I was a kid I was too inexperienced to tell the difference between people actually valuing my contributions and when the consequences of blatantly leaving me out simply not being worth the fallout they would cause. As I grow older, that fallout becomes less and less as everyone takes on the responsibility of carving out their own niche without the balancing hand of teachers or parents making sure everyone gets a fair shake, even the blind kid.

That is why, for all my supposed musical talent, I have been asked by a fellow student to play on exactly one recital over the course of five years while one of my roommates played two in the last three days. That is why I basically stood in the corner of the kitchen, feeling basically helpless while my roommates cooked up the food we bought. It isn't that me doing these things are impossibilities. But they're not certainties, and if someone else can do it faster, better, cleaner, why introduce all the extra potential for error that I come bundled with?

Dave Matthews said in a song, "When you give, you begin to live." Consider me well on the way to that song's title--I just might die trying. For everything I give, I have to take that much more. I blatantly and frequently depend on so many people for so many very particular things, but who really depends on me? Who is really worse off if I disappear tomorrow? The only answer I have to that question is merely the echos of my own doubt inside my head.

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