Getting Older…

Remember the days when you used to ache in places you didn’t know you had? This is where my body is at right now!

I have just spent seven days (and they were long days!) packing up my workshop. It was a task of gargantuan proportions. I am not going to list all of my equipment but, trust me, it was and is a lot. Three lathes, two bandsaws, a bench drill and sharpening systems for starters!

Many caring and loving people have asked if I wanted any help to box up all of my kit … but I had to graciously decline. The reason for this is my blindness. I needed to touch and feel every single item, including anything that was destined for the skip. The blind and visually impaired community rely on ‘memory maps’ for all sorts of things.

Navigating my workshop relies on hundreds of memory maps to help me function with a degree of professionalism and speed. Every time I touch an item I am bombarded with memories, information and mental imagery. ‘What is it? Where is it from? Where does it go?’ This type of routine encompasses much of my day’s activities and I couldn’t manage without them.

Navigating my workshop relies on hundreds of memory maps to help me function with a degree of professionalism and speed.

So, how did I do it, the packing up? Well, large machinery aside, I would concentrate on a particular section eg turning tools. I would take it off the rack, have a feel, lock the memory down and then lovingly place it in bubble wrap and into the packing box. Multiply this by a thousand and you begin to realise how and why a week of this can make someone who is blind feel absolutely drained.

Now, if I may, I would like to talk about mental health again. Nicola and I are both finding this experience to be cleansing and cathartic. We have let go of quite a few items, either by selling on eBay or Facebook Marketplace or donation to the charity shop, as we are downsizing a little.

The process made me realise that keeping busy like this is great therapy and a wonderful coping mechanism. It’s easy to get ‘in the zone’ with the task in hand and the more we can all keep busy the less time we have to sit in a chair and worry or ponder any distressing areas of our lives.

keeping busy like this is great therapy and a wonderful coping mechanism.

This last paragraph should highlight once again the importance of UK Men’s Sheds Association. Here is a wonderful and totally accessible resource for anyone wanting to get back in the saddle by way of meeting new friends and making things. You could even give your own shed an autumnal clean.

Your body might ache and, like me, you may even get some scratches and bruises but the sense of pride in a job well done is indeed strong medicine. We have given our minds, body and spirit a great workout and I, for one, feel thankful every single day that I can take another step along the journey of life. Now, where did I put the Radox?

Until next time …

Keep on turning!

Chris Fisher RPT aka The Blind Woodturner



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