Living On The Edge

Fields Of Life. Ch. 4.

Living On The Edge:

These were not easy times.

Life for me, coping with an absence of light and colour was most challenging.

The outline of every solid object as cast by its shadow was suddenly no more.

The concept of shape, including detail, was simply taken away.

Every silhouette I once knew was consumed by pitch blackness.

The focal point, the horizon, the magnitude of something in a particular direction – especially length or width or height – had all disappeared.

But there was no time for inhibitions.

No room for fears and unacceptable thoughts.

Suddenly, a whole new world opened up, as I began to find my way from A to B, by using a white-cane!

By this time we had already moved from Blaenavon to Crosskeys, where we lived in a small terrace house.

This was more practical, as our previous home was a five bed-roomed converted public house, having three reception rooms with five bedrooms – and needing a lot of upkeep!

It was at this point in time when we began to attend the Assemblies Of God Church in Machen.

It wasn’t long before I became part of the ministry team.

Anyhow, after loosing my eye sight – I frequently went to a local school to accomplish initial skills in white-cane training.

The primary and junior school was built on the side of a hill in a Welsh coal mining community – not too far from where we were living.

It was quite a modern building for the area.

It consisted of units of classrooms and offices built side by side, formed in a concrete square structure.

The interconnecting rooms were designed with the playground in the centre of the building complex.

The layout of the building was the ideal place for finding my way up and down corridors, through doorways, descending and ascending stairways and familiarizing myself with tactile surfaces on the ground.


On one such visit to the school, I had progressed quite well, so well, it was now time to venture outdoors.


Under the observation of my instructor: with the aid of my white-cane, I would tap my way along the ground, searching for different textures, obstacles, curbs, steps, corners, walls, exterior doorways and so on.

Anyhow, it became apparent at one time, that we were being watched.

I was later to discover that a little boy who had been observing for quite sometime, seemed totally mesmerised by what he could see.

He was obviously intrigued by the way a grown man was moving a white-cane across the tactual surface, tapping the cane in an arched formation as he walked along the way.

What could he be doing?

I had ventured around the playground, navigated my way up and down steps and became fully aware of my bearings – all with the aid of a white-cane.

My orientating skills were developing quite well!

On approaching the young boy – who by this time was completely focusing his attention on what I was doing, I suddenly became aware of his utter delight.

The lad was wholly spell bound!!

As I got closer to where he had been observing my progress – the little lad appeared to be jumping up and down with positive glee.


Failing to contain his excitement – he came closer and announced with uncontrollable joy, “I know what you’re doing!

– You’re looking for gold!”




Anyway, moving forward:

On another occasion, as I was progressing along a paved area parallel to the side of a roadway, my journey took me past the face of some terraced houses featuring front gardens which were either enclosed by a low stoned wall, a small wooden fence, or some wrought iron railings.

As I ventured along the concreted area, I moved my white cane in front of me – just like I had been taught back at the school.

Sure-enough, I held my white cane with my right hand wrapped around the handle – with my finger next to my thumb pointing along the cane shaft down towards the cane tip.

Tapping my way along, I swept my cane from side to side in an arched formation about the width of my body.

And so, as I continued along the walkway, this technique would enable me to find the wall, the fence or the railings on my left hand side.

And of course, this would also help me to find any bumps or holes in the ground!

Anyway, after a short distance, I would discover a group of shops – these were set back from the roadway.

However, in order to keep to the route, I would have to indent from the concreted area and follow the line of the shops before resuming the course in front of the gardens to the next line of houses.

On one training day: I had successfully progressed along the first section of the route and had accomplished great strides as I made my way past the group of shops.

Indeed, I was making significant progress!

I was just about to venture in front of the next set of houses and gardens enclosed with walls, fences and so on.

I remembered, the first garden had quite a low bricked wall for its perimeter.

My instructor who had been assessing my progress, then encouraged me to follow the low wall around.

Continuing with my white cane, I gently tapped my way along, searching for familiar land marks and textures along the way.

I then began to follow the very low wall in front of the first terraced house.

I thought I was doing quite well.

But then, suddenly, a hand touched my shoulder.

It was my instructor.

She asked, “Do you know where you are.”

“Yes!” came my indignant reply, not realising that there was a purpose in her query.

After pressing me even further with a similar question, “Do you really know where you are?” she then instructed me to tap the wall with my cane.

I did.

Then she asked me to step onto the wall.

Thinking this was crazy, and not too sure what to do – and hoping beyond hope that no one was watching – with some hesitation, I then stepped onto the wall!

To my utter amazement, it suddenly dawned on me!


Without any doubt, I suddenly became aware of the reason why the traffic on my right hand side appeared to be a little too close for comfort!


You’ve probably guessed!


It turned out, that rather than following the very low bricked wall in front of the terraced houses – I was, instead, following the edge of the curbstones!

Can you believe it?

I was actually walking in the road.

Right in line of the traffic!

Beep beep!


As I look back upon the sequence of events that had brought me thus far, I’m so thankful for the hand of my instructor!

Anyway, as time progressed, and I finally found confidence in using my white-cane, other doors opened up for me.

I began a course in audio typing, and on completion, for a short while – gained experience working for Torfaen Borough Council – in the Pontypool Council Chambers – as an audio typist and telephonist – an administrative official.


So much progress!

And to think, God will escort the blind down roads they do not know, guide them down paths they’ve never seen.

He will smooth their passage and light their way.

He will indeed do it – we are abandoned no more.

Isaiah 42:16

The Voice Bible.

Bible Gateway.

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