I have written before about the importance of having independence of action. In its simplest form I just mean the ability to do something yourself without help. This makes you feel independent. This makes you feel good. It is a sense of freedom.
Obviously for most adult people that sense of freedom; that independence of action; is normal in respect of day to day tasks and life. But I think people underestimate how much of a positive psychological effect the normality of that independence of action actually has on you, it is part of what makes us feel good.
One example of that feeling, that people might be able to relate to, is driving. Because of my deteriorating eyesight I had to give up driving when I was in my early twenties but I remember passing my test at 17 and the first time I drove on my own. That independence of action that driving gives you,the ability to go where you want when you want, that is freedom. I can remember the rush it gave me to have that freedom. The pure pleasure.
But like any high once you have had lots it becomes normal and the high is no longer so pronounced. So once you have had your own car for a while you forget that initial rush of freedom, and the independence, that having a car gives you and it just because normal. It is though still part of your positive psyche; a part of what makes you independent. If you are a driver just think about the last time your car broke down, or you left your car at home because you wanted to drink that evening, and you had to use public transport. I would put money on you not getting a rush from having to follow a timetable and only being able to travel at a time someone else dictates. So conversely, to the positive feeling that you get from having independence of action, there is undoubtedly a negative feeling from the lack of it. This is why people struggle so much when they get told they can no longer drive when they are older. That independence of action is brutally taken away and it has a massive effect on a person’s psyche.
Driving is just one example of this positivity that people get from independence of action but, as I have written elsewhere, for a visually impaired person it equally applies to much more seemingly mundane things such as being able to find the TV remote or find the toilets in the pub.
As a visually impaired person, the biggest rushes I get are probably from the more extreme situations when I get to control my movement at speed without fear of something going wrong (in other words crashing into something!). Much of a visually impaired person’s movement is done slowly, for obvious reasons, and often you are being controlled by the environment around you as you try to navigate it rather being free to go at will. So, for me, opportunities to reverse that feeling, to move quickly and be in control, are rare and an immense pleasure to enjoy.
One example for me came about because I am lucky enough to have a brother who owns both a quad bike and a field. I am also lucky enough that he was prepared to take the risk of letting me drive his quad bike round the field. The theory was that it was a such large field, with nothing in it, so even with my very limited sight there was no harm that should come to me. For those watching me do it I know the reality was a little scarier than the theory but for me the thrill was immense. I could drive as fast as I wanted from one end of the field to the other end knowing that I wasn’t going to hit anything at all. The rush was like driving a car on your own for the first time.
Another slightly more sedate example is my kayak. I take it out on a very wide, quiet(ish) river near where I live and, mostly, keep to the shallows so the chances of me hitting somebody, or something,is pretty slim (famous last words but I have not hit anything yet!). I cannot paddle as fast as a quad bike but the theory of being in control of your own journey; that independence of action; that sense of freedom; is exactly the same.
Independent action is about the sense of freedom it gives you. That sense of freedom is like a drug, inducing wellbeing and positivity, it makes you feel good.