Originally written on August 8, 2010:
One of the experiences in my life which has been the richest and most rewarding is having participated in the programs of an organization called Landmark Education. The promise of this organization’s Curriculum for Living is that “you will your life powerfully and live a life you love.” One of the greatest benefits of having participated in Landmark Education’s programs is that I have been able to share it with my friends and family, including my mother and my father. My father is 85-years-old, and several years ago was suffering from glaucoma in one eye, and cataracts in the other. Dad could still see well-enough to drive, read, go fishing, and do other things, even having cataracts; but his doctor wanted him to have surgery to improve his eye-sight even more. My father checked-in for a routine procedure. During the surgery, complications occurred, and a capillary in his other eye, the good eye, ruptured. It filled with blood. When my father emerged from surgery, he was totally blind. He could not see at all out of either eye. This was a major shock to me, and to the rest of the family. A vibrant, healthy, robust man had been reduced in an instant to an invalid. Talking with my father, I was upset and I suggested he take legal action against his doctor. It sounded to me as if negligence was involved. My father flatly refused to sue his doctor. He told me, “My doctor is a good man. He didn’t intend for this to happen. I have faith in him, and will continue to go to him.” Then I suggested my father let me take him to the Braille Institute to get a Seeing Eye dog, and other services to help him function without sight. Again he refused. My father told me “I am going to see again. I am not a blind person. My doctor is going to help me regain my sight.” I was moved by his trust, his compassion, and his resilience. He was full of confidence when he said these words. It seemed to go beyond positive thinking, something like an absolute commitment. When he said it, I actually GOT it was so. For the next two and one half years, even though he couldn’t see, he refused to let not seeing get in his way of fully living life. He continued to go deep-sea fishing with his buddies every other Monday. He listened to sports on the radio. He came to all of our family functions, and was as active in life as ever.
Two and a half years after becoming blind, my father went in for surgery again for a laser procedure suggested by his doctor; the very doctor my father had trusted. When the nurse removed the bandages from his eyes, my father exclaimed, “I see BLUE! What a beautiful blue blouse you have on!” He had regained his eye-sight just as he said he would. I learned a big lesson from this. If my father had gone in the direction of suing his doctor, blaming him for his troubles, making him and everyone else wrong, he might have won a lot of money, and gotten a lot of sympathy and agreement; but he would still be blind. Because my father stood for possibility, stood for trusting his doctor, and stood for regaining his eye-sight, he was able to see the beautiful face of his first great grandchild when she was born and placed in his arms. I am totally clear that my father got all of this freedom and possibility out of having done the work provided by Landmark. I am clear that this work provides people with the things pharmacists and surgeons may not typically provide – pointing the direction one will go, and then going there, because you say so – the power to stand for a possibility, even when it doesn’t look very likely, and then to follow-through until you achieve it. I am deeply proud of my father, and of his commitment to his own health and well-being.