In the airport, somewhere, I don’t remember now, a woman wearing an Elvis Presley sweat shirt bustled up to me and said, “Oh you’re so inspiring, so inspiring!” I’d just purchased a “Venti” from Starbucks and I was shouldering my briefcase, cradling the coffee, and holding onto my dog. All I wanted was to find a table and sit without spilling my drink. And I was exhausted. Then she said it again: “You blind people are so inspiring.” Believe it or not, for the first time in my life I had no idea what to say. I’d parried with strangers many times—usually the Bible toting variety who wanted to pray for me. Once on a bus in Columbus, Ohio a woman loudly asked if she could pray for my soul and I said yes but only if I could pray for hers—and then I said: “And why should we stop with just our souls? Let’s pray for everyone on this bus!” I said it as loudly as I could. The woman got off at the next stop. People applauded.
In the airport, juggling my coffee I didn’t know what to say. As a statement of literal truth I was inspiring. But it felt like a soiled compliment. In my world view everyone who gets through the day without becoming violent or suicidal is inspiring. We live in a hard world. I thanked her. And I had petty tremors in my mind.