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Below are a sampling of articles by Knighton. Discover his take on squid-flavoured chips, the neurotic psychology behind perfume, the fact airplanes have windshield wipers, and – most pressing of all –the dangers of Utah.
 

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ON THE VIRTUE OF LETTING GO • by Ryan Knighton

Slowly going blind has its lessons. Some I’ve ignored, others have hit hard. For example, I know it’s smarter to listen for traffic at a crosswalk than to listen for the tweety-bird signal. I’d be a flatter blind man if I didn’t.

Other lessons came to me slowly, like a strip tease. That was okay, though. I lost my sight bit by bit over fifteen years. I know slow. Slow is my nature. It’s the rhythm of my retinas and their genetically programmed self-destruction. Sometimes my disease, retinitis pigmentosa, demands more patience than anything else. That, and an ability to let go.

I’ve had to let go of a lot: driving, the image of my own face, physical grace, a good aim, foreign films, windows, red, maroon, beige (no loss), and, most difficult of all, my former self. A sighted guy I knew as Ryan. Barely seen him in years.

Today I have one percent of my sight left in one eye. When it goes, and that could be any moment, my slender portal to the visual world will go, too. How do you say goodbye to that? It’s so much, and so little. See you later, I guess. I hope.

But I’m not alone. Patience has been my guide in this slow change. I wait, and in doing so, things happen, and I’m comforted to know that something else always comes along. That’s what it means to let go. To let your story happen.

Consider my Sundance misadventure. I was invited to the Sundance Screenwriter’s lab in Utah to develop the script based on my memoir, Cockeyed. Yes, a blind guy writing a picture. The medium’s end must be near. The workshop was held at the Sundance ski resort. Twenty writers were housed in cabins there, tucked away in the snowy woods, to meet daily at a lodge down a path and some stairs, and then some more stairs.

I stepped out of my cabin the first morning and headed for the lodge, having assured my hosts that I could find my own way. I may be blind, but I’m 35. Dammit, I can find my way to breakfast, can’t I?

Yes, well.

I slowly pinballed – always slowly – down stairs and turns and followed the burbling sound of distant water. I knew the lodge was near a small creek. The snow muted any helpful sounds from my white cane –was I on a path of rocks, grass? -- and my trusty stick communicated no texture but snow. Eventually it made a sploosh as it touched the creek. I must be close, I reasoned.

But as I turned and surveyed, I could hear only water. It surrounded me. I tried a few paces in several directions, each attempt leading to a sploosh of water. A moat. A Utah mountain moat. Disorientation bloomed in me. Could this be an island? Was this a flash flood? Panic flowered. Was I still in Utah? I considered my options. I had only one.

Fuck it.

I stood there.

I would wait. I let go of any ambition to find my way to breakfast, or Utah, and gambled that one of my screenwriter friends would notice that the blinkered Canadian was missing. They’d come looking. Maybe they’d option the film rights to my story, too.

A half an hour later a SUV blasting mariachi tunes pulled up next to my chilly person. A tiny eastern European woman descended the cab and asked if I needed help. I knew she was short because her accent came from a spot just above my frozen elbow.

“Please,” I said, “I’m looking for the lodge.”

“Would you like me to take you there?”

“I hope it’s not out of your way.’

I started towards the blurry headlights of her SUV, palming for the door handle. Before I could find it, she spun me around, ushered me ten paces hard left, and opened the lodge door.

As was the case then, and as it has always been in my life, letting go is to understand myself as part of a story. One thing gives away to another. Don’t panic. Change is the nature of drama, of comedy, of a world of matter in motion. That’s transformation -- benevolent, absurd, and always pushing its hand on the door to the next room. You never arrive, though. You just work on another story once you’re there.

Take it from a man about to leave this well-lit place. If anything, I’m into change, not loss.




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