WAT’S UP – Adam Sawatsky

You don’t have to lose your vision to gain insight

I’ve lost my voice. It was taken by a tickle in my throat that’s left me sounding like a wheezy pre-pubescent boy.

The first time it happened I was scared my voice would never return. I had just started working in TV and assumed my career was over before it really began.

The artistic director of the Victoria Spoken Word Festival has never lost her voice, but Missie Peters understood my concern. She imagines it would be the equivalent of her “losing my identity.”

The writer-performer did lose another sense temporarily – her sight. Peters says an eye infection during an Australian vacation left her “basically blinded” because she couldn’t wear contacts and didn’t pack her glasses.

At first, the experience made the extrovert become “more quiet and insular.” Eventually she was forced to reach out to strangers for help with the simplest tasks. Peters says the situation “made everybody beautiful. I couldn’t see their physical imperfections and was only aware of their inner beauty.”

Although she lost her sight, she gained an insight.

The Aussie eye infection inspired her writing. Peters says she now uses self-imposed limitations to expand her creativity.

The example she gave me: “Imagine if I asked you to write a song. You’d probably feel overwhelmed. But if I said ‘write a song about just cheese’ then you have something specific to work with. Or if I suggested you write a poem without using the letter ‘E’.” Peters says it can take you to creative places you’d never usually go.

I’m trying to do the same now that I’ve lost my voice for a second time. Instead of being constricted by the situation, I’m choosing to be open to the possibilities it’s presenting. Because I can’t connect with people by talking, I’m listening more intently and seeing more clearly.

Although the sound coming out of my mouth is a quiet whisper, the ideas in my head are exploding loudly.

Adam Sawatsky reports on arts & lifestyle weekdays

on CTV News Vancouver Island.

On weekends he hosts Eye on the Arts on CFAX 1070.



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