On Life´s imperfections
At which point of your life will you complain the most? When you do not have eyes? Or legs? Or hands? When you are deaf? Or when you are dumb? You probably have chosen one condition that you think could be the hardest to deal with. If you have everything in order, you would probably say, you have the eyes, but you see the wrong things, or you have the legs but you always seem to be going to the wrong places or even the fact that you have the hands but you seem to be touching the wrong things all the time!
Whoever coined the saying Disability is Not Inability, he sure had my colleague in mind. I have always wanted to write about this young man, whose story has truly inspired my life a great deal, but still I always find myself short of words. When I asked him if I could write a story about him on my blog, I wasn´t sure he will accept. Even when he did, I still wasn´t sure of what to write about him. This is simply because, I have a lot to say about him and I really do not know how to go about it, so whichever the way I do it, I just hope you will find some inspiration in it.
I am talking about one journalist at Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK, Sørlandet. His name is Yngve who is in his early 30´s. “Though he is blind, he is such a brilliant reporter, he makes great features,” said one of my colleagues as he introduced me to Yngve for the very first time.
I looked at him with a lot of sympathy, not sure of what to say. It is just within human nature to feel empathetic especially when you meet people whom we consider to have some sort of disability. All the time I meet him either along the office corridors, or at the coffee machine, at the lunch lounge, I always felt the need to offer him a helping hand. I sometimes wondered why the rest of the people always left him to do things on his own, then I realised, he has always done so. He has beat all the odds to prove that disability is not inability.
I am managing well!
“I practically do most things by myself, it has been a challenge but I am managing well,” said Yngve. Now that is not a common phrase you will get to hear from people who are visually impaired. Being a journalist is not easy, that, we all know, if you have been one, you have an idea. Then being a reporter is even challenging. So, how is it like for him to be a reporter at NRK? I wondered for a very long time before we become friends and then he could answer many of my worries about him.
Good luck, he speaks English, that makes our communication easy. It is important to note, this is what he says about English “The truth is, I have been learning this language for the past 7 years. I never wanted to learn English at all, I thought it was one of the most boring languages and I even convinced my brother not to waste his time on English.” Then as fate will have it, my wife is an American, so I had no choice but learn the language.” Said Yngve.
As tasking as it being a journalist, now he is managing as a permanent employee at NRK, a husband to a blind wife and a father of a soon to be 3-year old cute boy. How is this possible? It took me a little while to be convinced that he surely does not see. “To what extend do you see, are you completely blind?”
“Do you doubt it? I can see to a very small degree mostly during the summer season because it is quite bright and when I am in a very bright room. During Autumn and Winter when it is dark most of the time, I rarely see, so I depend on my memory to guide me on most things.” He said.
Of course I found it hard to believe him for a while. He comes to work all alone, he is not using walking sticks, he has literally mastered his way around the office, from point A to Z, I must admit I find it incredible! “I use a special editing program, so I am able to edit and make features on my own. My computer is just the normal computer like the one you use, but I have learnt quite a number of shortcuts which are easy to use. I also have special software that reads for me my emails, so I send, read and reply to all my emails just like any other person.” He said.
Questions and Answers
Whenever I get a chance to spend some time with him, I find myself with more questions, he probably must be tired of meeting the “inquisitive me”. Of course he is not the first blind man I have met, no, he is just very special in a very special way. “You know in Norway, if you have a disability, they issue you with disability papers, then you can stay at home and the welfare system can take care of you. For those who feel so empathetic, have asked me to consider taking disability, but I ask myself, why should I? I wanna live a normal life which I have always done, so I don´t need it.” He said. Norway caters for people with special needs, so many are able get help to live as normal as it can be.
We have done quite a number of things together, the first time he sent me a message on my phone, I asked myself, so how did he write it? “I use a normal phone, not a special one, only that I have it installed with a special voice device, so I get all my messages read for me.” Said Yngve. I am used to this phone and I pretty know where each letter is at.
I already mentioned, he is married to a blind wife, coming from America. So how did they meet? “When I first met Hannah, I knew she was the one, I went to meet her in Israel and as I came back to Norway, I can tell you for sure, that was the longest flight I ever took. I missed her so much and I longed to see her again”. He said. Long story, I will tell you about it in my next blog.
How they both manage to use the word see in their conversations, I don´t know. They live on their own, on a first floor apartment and they do not have a nanny. But the wife is quick to remind me “We have a househelp who comes for some hours during the day, takes me for shopping and does some of our cleaning. We know where we place everything around the house, so it is easy to manage it by our own, that way we don´t mix things up.” She said.
In addition, Yngve plays the piano at the church and he is a great musician, He has a Gospel album to his name, a clear indication that he is doing all he could and that his inability is not anything to stop him from reaching his life aspirations.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston S. Churchill