Since I lost my vision, paperwork I would have filed has accumulated in a box. Not paid bills or medical documents or anything important, those were put away by my husband. I’m talking about receipts for large purchases, owner’s manuals, all the printed material we keep for reference or proof of purchase. Initially we assumed my sight would return and I would take care of the contents of the storage bin then. As time moved on, and my optic nerves did not, the carton filled. Luckily we never needed anything dropped in there, which perhaps speaks to their significance, but isn’t that what a file cabinet holds? Papers we may need one day?
As the home office where this temporary organizational system resided filled with painting supplies and furniture from other rooms as we began to refresh our upstairs decor, the box continued to receive items to be filed. And then, it was the office’s turn to be made over. As I emptied everything out of that room, I knew it was time. The brown monster needed to be gone through, sorted, and properly filed in the file cabinet. It was daunting to me and I put it off for days. Finally, with no excuses left and heavy irritation at myself for being so . . . well, daunted . . . I carried the container downstairs to where my Merlin Electronic Magnifier is. The machine allows me to magnify as well as change background and font colors of anything I place under its camera. I took the first piece out and began the process of looking at every single sheet. I divided the documents into shred, file and trash piles until I reached the bottom of the box, where just cardboard and a few paper clips remained.
I have always loved organizing things and found this project fun. I remembered who I was before, when a corporate career called on this skill every day. But see, that was the cause of the hesitation and overwhelmed feeling that kept me from tackling this task. The old me, the fully sighted me, would have whipped through that accumulation of paper in no time, sitting on the floor or at the desk. The 20/20 me would have looked forward to it. Instead, the visually impaired me had to drag the box downstairs to the Merlin and position the paper in exactly the right spot under the camera, play with the color and magnification size, read small sections of the page at a time since I have to make the text size quite large in order to see it. No “woe is me” here, just the facts: everything takes me longer now and requires a new level of creativity. But what I was taught again in doing this job is this: we can’t stop being who we are because it’s hard. Because it’s different than it used to be. Obviously I’m still learning this lesson when it comes to the non-daily activities of life, but I can honestly say I never worry about doing something after I’ve done it, only before. We build things up in our mind, filling it with pieces of fear and doubt until it’s as crammed full as the box in my office was. But once you do the thing you’re apprehensive about, you, like me, may be reminded who you are . . . and discover what’s inside. And what you’re made of.