The other night, John and I watched an old, favorite movie, Office Space. While watching it, I was horrified to realize that the bumbling idiot character of Milton is low vision – typified by his coke bottle glasses.
I started thinking about the difference between the way blind characters are portrayed in the media (super-human powers, psychic, jokesters) and the way characters with low vision are portrayed. Is the case of Milton, in whom low vision equals incompetence, typical? I immediately thought of Mr. Magoo, whose incompetent driving skills led to accidents all around him while he remained unscratched. Bumbling but lovable. Scooby Doo’s Velma is always losing her glasses, becoming a buffoon each time they are dropped.
These foolish, bumbling portrayals fuel my fears about how I will be perceived. Each time I make a mistake at work, I worry that I am being seen as Milton – incompetent and just waiting to be pushed out. When I stumble or trip, I fear that I am being as ridiculous as Velma – a figure to be assisted and pitied. I am the same, competent person that I was before my vision began to deteriorate. Do I really believe this? Sometimes I allow myself to question my abilities, my intelligence, my competence. I must continue to believe in myself and fight against the fears of becoming dependent, bumbling, and incompetent. I am much more than my low vision disability. That disability is only one small part of who I am. I must focus on the big picture, the totality of my abilities. I want to live my life in fullness as the beloved child of God that I am. In that way, I will be able to participate with grace and work to make the world the beautiful, glorious place that it can be.