am 1. Januar 2005
The author, who is totally blind, gives the reader his life story. Told with humor, he regales the reader with insights into his early life, when he could still see, and describes how his gradual loss of sight impacted on how the world perceived him. Fighting all his life against stereotypic notions that the sighted population has about those who are blind, the author has proven that those who are blind can do just about anything a sighted person can do. They just go about doing it in a slightly different way.
It is truly amazing that the author climbs mountains, because in order for him to do so, he must climb with others in whom he can place his complete and absolute trust. To some extent, he must rely upon them for precise descriptions of the terrain that lies before him. He also sometimes requires them to direct him accurately. Often, accurate directions and descriptions of the terrain are all that lies between the author and a precipitous drop of several thousand feet. I marvel that anyone would dare to venture up a mountain they cannot see in the traditional sense. The author has nerves of steel and is blessed with a very supportive and loving family.
Yet, he climbs, not for the visual beauty of the mountains, but for the sense of freedom that it gives. For him, the mountains he climbs are a reassurance that he is just like everyone else. They are also trophies. He is working on climbing the seven summits, the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents. At present, he has reached the summit of four of them. I hope that he will reach his goal.
The author is a very handsome, athletic and driven young man, and I give him a lot of credit for that drive and athleticism. When one reads his book, the reader realizes just how much it took for him to be able to do what he has done. What he has accomplished has flown into the face of conventional wisdom and traditional expectations of one who is blind. His story is unique in that he alone has made it so. He is a shining example of a person who will not let others dictate the parameters of his life. Yet, at the same time, he occasionally comes across as somewhat unfeeling of others and a bit shallow. Those who read the book will, undoubtedly, know what I mean. Nonetheless, he is certainly to be credited for expanding common perceptions of what the blind are capable of achieving.
Good luck, Erik, on all your future endeavors!