Sometimes we feel different, like we don’t belong in this world. Our connection to the universe is one that goes deep into the soul for contemplation, understanding, and learning. Richard Dugan, born legally blind, and through the efforts of his ophthalmologist 36 years later, he gained enough sight to be able to drive and enjoy life in a way that has inspired his lifelong career.
Many of us have a desire to change the world, to bring awareness to what it means to be human. Through his radio show, Tell Me Your Story, Richard has had the privilege of interviewing people from all over the world, including Bernie Siegel, Rev. Patricia Cagganello, Dennis Pitocco, myself and so many more.
I am excited to share with you, some of Richard’s thoughts about life and his journey thus far. Please enjoy some thought-provoking answers that may have you looking deeper into your own soul for pondering life’s meaning and the human experience.
Eileen: You have been interviewing others for over 40 years inviting them to tell their story. Everyone has a pivotal point in life that is the basis of their story, you have your own story, please share with us your pivotal point and how that has impacted your life.
Richard: And I thought my questions to my guests were hard, lol.
I’m going to give you two pivotal moments, because they go together, to place me where I am today.
The first is when I received my lens implant on March 6th, 1996. Before then I was considered legally blind. With 20/200 vision in my right eye, and 20/400 vision in my left. For those who don’t know, 20/200 means that I can see at 20 feet. What people with 20/20 vision can see at 200 feet.
I even remember after the procedure my first wife and I were walking to the McDonald’s on the corner of 83rd Avenue and Indian School in Phoenix, Arizona. As we walked along the sidewalk, I looked up at the trees and was excited, but disappointed because the trees didn’t look as full and bushy as they did before and that’s only because I didn’t have such clear vision, but now I could see the leaves more individually as it were.
When we got inside to place our order at the counter. It was the first time I was able to read the menu from the front of the counter!!
There was one sad note to this pivotal moment, that should have been exciting all the way around. My first wife, who was also totally blind and used a guide dog to get around in the last eight or ten years of our marriage, made the statement that I have never been able to forget. “I hope I get to benefit from your new sight.” I’ve never forgotten that statement because from my perspective it was a given that she would, and hopefully, from that point forward I would learn to drive and get a car so that I could drive us both around to the many, many places that we wanted to go. It saddens me that she didn’t accept that as a given, considering the fact that we were married, sharing a life together, and experiences that would last a lifetime.
The second profound moment was March 1st of 2006. I was divorced from my first wife and now married to my second wife, who I am with to this day. We were sitting in the living room watching TV when she came over to me and said that she was scared.
The reason was that we both had just entered unemployment. Scary as it was, my job came to an end on February 28th of that year when the new owners of the radio station I was working for decided they were going to change the format and let everybody else go who was involved in the previous format, which was air America, Phoenix. The new format was going to be brokered Christian programming.
My wife said to me on that March 1st evening that she felt like we were on the edge of a precipice because we both were unemployed. With no fear whatsoever within me I responded by telling her that of all of the interviews I’ve done, and all of the personal growth programs I’ve been through and all the books I’ve read that this is a time when the universe asks you to do two things. It’s when you’re on the edge of a precipice or cliff that you are to number one, jump, and number two, trust.
It is actually one of the most difficult things to remember from day-to-day, but that’s what we need to learn to do, is jump into an experience and trust that the universe will provide and guide us through that experience.
The outcome of jumping and trusting has been the move to Santa Barbara, California, her hometown, and my moving to the ocean, which I had wanted to be close to, for many, many years, which has placed me right here right now, answering your questions.
Eileen: Life is our Master Teacher, what do you feel has been your greatest life lessons?
Richard: Girl, again, another incredibly good question that I have probably answered time and time again on the radio broadcast and the podcast over the years. There are a few that really stand out and that I have tried to pass on to others because I think they make a big difference.
The first one that I can come to immediately is the one about working with what you have until you get what you want. Of course, that means that if you are trying to accomplish a particular task and you don’t have all of the tools that you need and you know that you’re not going to have them to complete this task. Then you must find another way to complete the task with what you do have at hand.
I learned this lesson when I was going to broadcast school and in the first early years of my career when we did not have state-of-the-art equipment, circa 1979, and 1980s, I had to get creative with some of the sound that I wanted in a commercial or a program. So, I had to figure out how to create those effects using what I had. I didn’t discover the effect they call flange. However, I came across it when I started working on the computer and I listen to the effect as I applied it to the vocals and realized that I had done that same effect with the equipment I had at the time back in the early 80s.
Another lesson I’ve learned is that the details will make you or break you. It’s not the big stuff that’s important, it’s the little stuff. Take care of the details, this applies to every aspect and facet of our lives.
This applies especially well in relationships, at the workplace or whether you’re driving or whatever you’re doing. I have found that if I speak harshly to my partner, it undoes the years of support, encouragement and trying to inspire my partner to be the absolute best she can be. And again, it is all undone in a split-second with the wrong words and emotion in those words. So, I do my utmost to think before I speak and be aware of the other person’s demeanor, where they’re coming from, how they’re feeling, and what triggers them.