Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities in a World That Can't See Clearly by Isaac Lidsky
In EYES WIDE OPEN, Isaac Lidsky provides a series of autobiographical essays, which document his struggles with Retinitis Pigmentosa—commonly called “RP.” The author explains the hideous nature of this disease: One gradually loses vision, starting from the periphery, causing a “tunnel effect.” There is no cure, although there is a lot of research going on.
The author recounts his many struggles with RP and his plan to just solve the problem logically—just like it were some math problem. Of course, that didn’t work, and Isaac was forced to face circumstances that weren’t as simple as solving a geometry problem. The author began to see how to better use his other senses. He makes it clear that his hearing is not actually more acute than sighted people—it’s just he uses it more effectively: “I gained heightened abilities of perception employing my other senses.” As a result,
“Eyes wide open became my powerful philosophy and active daily strategy.”
In the chapter, “Acceptance and Surrender” the author explains his tendency to put limits on himself. He cites the challenge of “throwing out the first pitch.” Even though he was a highly successful lawyer, he had convinced himself he could not throw a baseball. He discovered that “The self-limiting assumptions we make about ourselves are buried deep and easily missed.”
If you read nothing else, DO NOT MISS CHAPTER 8! In this chapter, Isaac explains that “Going blind opened wide my heart.” He now experienced and felt kindness all around him—had had gotten “heart sight.” The author’s vulnerability actually opened him up to new possibilities. He could apprehend things and people he had taken for granted before:
“I felt it in random strangers who helped me. I felt it in friends who labored to understand. I felt it in my sisters who sought to protect me. . . They taught me to see with my heart, and I feel in love with the view. Joy, grace, beauty, and beneficence are everywhere if you choose to see them.”
Besides Chapter 8, whatever you do, READ THE LAST 2 PAGES! These 2 short pages are a call to action, based on changing your worldview: “How do you want to live your life? Who do you want to be?”
So all in all, I found EYES WIDE OPEN to be an interesting read—especially the inspiring Chapter 8, “Heart Wide Open.” Keep in mind this really isn’t a “How to” book for blind people. It’s really more a philosophy of life, related by someone who has faced a massive challenge, and learned to make the best of it. The sections appear to be independently written essays. This makes the read seem a little disconnected, and hurts continuity somewhat. Nevertheless, the author's encouraging words and especially his worldview come though loud and clear. The author closes the book with this admonition:
“Count your blessings, not your burdens. Live with grace, not greed.”
This was a very tough book for me to read, since my daughter suffers from the same disease. On the other hand, I hope the encouraging words found in EYES WIDE OPEN may help those suffering from RP.
For another story about a journey through RP, see this short read by Laura Lawson Visconti, “Believing is Seeing.”
Advance Review Copy courtesy of the publisher.
Photos courtesy of Pexels.