Mike's Journal

[March 20, 2000]

I turned to the lady next to me and said, ?excuse me, I just got my sight back last week after being totally blind for 43 years. Could you help me figure out what I am seeing??

[May 8, 2000]

I was mesmerized by the glint of the sunlight on the crest of the waves just before they broke. Then everything would crash into white bubbles and come rushing toward my bare feet. I wanted to run into those waves, clothes and all. The smells and sounds of the ocean have always drawn me. Couple them with the visual beauty and I was bound to get wet.

The waves rolled toward each other from either side, like stereo merging into monaural. Just as the sunshine glinted on the wave crest, the wind made a quick whipping sound that was followed by the crash. It was so amazing to piece the visual images together with the audible images, which I know, and love so well. The connection was surreal like the first time skiing, everything so familiar and so much more unfamiliar at the same time.

When I would take a break and tare my eyes from the ocean, I enjoyed looking at the colors of the sand, very wet, wet and dry. When I noticed dark patches behind me, it didn’t register right away that these were my footprints. I never thought of footprints as images other than when reading about them in an old west novel. To me, they were the thump; pivot push and the texture of the sand on my foot not dark splotches following me around like a shadow. It was intriguing to watch the waves slowly wash those prints away. Still these impressions remain indelibly in my memory. There will be lots to learn from the ocean…

[January 21, 2001]

I have been seeing little things recently and having to explore and ask to find out what they really are. For example, I was looking at my laptop computer and kept seeing sparkles and flashes of light. Turn on the Star Wars music. I would tilt my head, lean closer to the computer screen and rub my eyes. I guessed that maybe something in the room was reflecting the sun into my face. Finally my co-worker Kim explained to me that these sparkles of light were actually particles of dust flying through the air.

I think of dust as an annoying smooth substance, which collects on equipment and on top of doorways. I had no concept of dust visually. It was so bright and so fleeting. Obviously dust has to travel through the air in order to land on a surface. I just never pictured that anyone could see the dust moving through the air. The fact that the sun was poring through the window certainly made it more visible than it might otherwise have been. It is just such a new concept, not to mention a new sight, that I was quite captivated by this sparkling dust.

[June 22, 2003]

The smaller white specs are either birds or large bugs, I never know which. It is either a bird far away or a bug up close. With my poor depth perception, I can’t tell the difference.

Besides all this natural beauty, there are quite a number of sun bathers of every sort imaginable. I have been to beaches before where shirts were optional and I wondered how nonchalant I would be if I could see. I now have somewhat of an opportunity to know. It is not how I expected.

Most of the topless bathers are evenly tanned, meaning that there is very little contrast for me to see with my low vision and poor acuity for details. I sadly would have to stare far too long and close at a chest before I would know if it was a male or a female chest. Bright colored bikini tops however, make for a wonderful contrast, letting my imagination and tactile experience fill in the details.

[…]

The truth is that I am looking at everybody, enjoying all aspects of this island paradise. It is a multiple sensory, multiple cultural orgy: color for the eyes, sun oil mixed with ocean scents for the nose, German/English/Spanish/Catalan and the pineapple seller’s song for the ears the taste of cerveza, and embracing it all, the warm touch of the sea-breeze and island sunshine. — Mike May —Mike’s Journal (The Sendero Group)

An abridged version was published in the Guardian.

I didn’t find any links to the individual entries, so here are excerpts from passages that I found most interesting. The April 10, 2001 entry also contains May’s responses to case studies in medical literature.

With all the online references to Raymond Carver’s story “Cathedral” online, I’m surprised nobody seems to have linked that story with this journal. I can also imagine using it for a comparative study with “Flowers for Algernon.”