When I was nineteen I was going through Wikipedia and I found a diagnosis for my eye condition, achromatopsia. It was something I was born with but I had really peculiar symptoms and no doctor could ever find a diagnosis. You have photoreceptors in your eye made up of cones and rods. You perceive light using cones throughout the day and the rods you use at night. I don’t have functioning cones so I only use my “night vision”. That means, I have complete colour blindness and very low visual acuity. I’m very sensitive to light, obviously!

I guess as a kid, I thought this sensitivity to light was normal so didn’t really talk about it very much. I wondered if maybe I did see colours but just couldn’t remember the words to describe them, and so you develop this strange reaction to life. For me, everything is black and white with about 10% visual acuity.

It taught me that your perception is really only yours.

I would never have said that I can’t see colour, and I would never have said that your visual acuity is any better than mine, because I still find ways to function with what I’ve got…

People worry if they don’t have a purpose or if they don’t reach a purpose, it’s just how our brain works that we need a meaning because we’re meaning-creating creatures. We’ve created a narrative that we need to do something special, we want to be remembered after we’re gone, we want our lives to have a meaning. I don’t take this so religiously. I guess my purpose is to be happy day to day. That’s less expectation but more just general good experience. 

Become a member

Access exclusive stories, attend special events and join our online safe space. All for free. 

Best of the blog

Take a look at the favourite blog posts and podcast episodes from How To Be Human.