Reflections on Three Days of Blindness: Part II

 Day Two of My Experiment with Three Days of Blindness:

            “I can’t believe I’m doing this. I woke up blind again this morning and today I

            feel left out. I feel like I’m missing out on a lot of things everyone else can enjoy.

            It’s a beautiful day, I can feel it, but I can’t see it. I’m listening to a record and

            feeling good right now though. But I do feel less human. There is no doubt I’m

            experiencing a different reality then either Shannon or Nicole. The three of

            us are in my room and it feels nice. I try to smell the flowers I got for Valentine’s

            Day today but I can’t smell either; I’ve got a cold. I try covering my ears for

            a moment—complete darkness and silence. No way! That is intense, I don’t

            want to try that. I’m glad I can hear, the music gives me power. I can feel

            powerful listening to the music. It fills me with some kind of reality—commun-

            ication. Not with eye contact, but through the voice. Music is the same whether

            you can see or not.”

 

This entry reminds me how important communication and sharing together is to our mental and emotional health. It is easy to take for granted, while we have it so available to us, but when we are deprived of the opportunity to communicate and share, even silently perhaps as we sit together in a room listening to music, the isolation we can feel is very intense and demoralizing. I expect we all know someone in an isolated place, in a convalescent home hoping for a visitor, or shut-in at home for health reasons, or just socially unable to relate with others very well. There are so many cases and so many opportunities for those of us who are enjoying our healthy lives to reach out and communicate with those who aren’t enjoying the same state of wholeness and who need our communication.

Now it is their need, but it will likely be us someday, in the future, that will be in need, and I can assure you, when that time comes, we will hope that somebody cares enough, and has thought enough about this, to reach out and communicate with us when we are alone, or blind, or shut in. The truth is we are all in this together, we are all of the same fabric, the same blood, two sides of the same coin, and we need to care for one another with the same concern we give ourselves.

            “I went to hear ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, a play being done at the high school.

            My friends Zaidi and Galen picked me up and we went together. ‘I don’t think

            it would be this lighthearted if you were going to be blind forever,’ said Zaidi,

            ‘but it should be. It seems like you could just take it one day at a time, like you

            are now, and keep a light heart.’  It does seem like it should be that way. I sup-

            pose that is enlightenment. I don’t know if I’d have such a positive outlook if

            this was my forever future. It’s a novelty right now, but it wouldn’t be novel if

            it were permanent.

             Inside the theater I spoke with many people before the show, and could recognize

            most voices: John’s calm, methodical and rhythmic voice, Randy’s grainy voice,

           Arwen’s musical voice. I hug Mia; she gives great hugs. At intermission I met Arnold.

          Arnold has a handicap, a speech impediment and maybe some other things,

          I’m not sure. I’m lucky to run into people like him.

 

         We had a talk about handicaps and what I’ve learned from this experience so far.

         I told him how scared I’ve been at times, and how alone I’ve felt, and my feeling

         that people didn’t want me around, like I was intruding on their little romantic view

         of a perfect and clean life. No ugliness.

 

            I relayed to Arnold my experience at the grocery store and how when I said hello

            to the check-out lady, she barely acknowledged me and uttered a forced response.

            It happened though that the bagger was a friend and he recognized me and asked

            me what I was doing. After I explained my experiment, the cashier then asked me,

            ‘So are you into forced torture?’

 

            I told Arnold that it seemed to me when people thought I had a permanent disability

            it scared them and they treated me poorly, like I had a contagious disease, but once

            they understood I was just pretending, then they treated me slightly better, but still

            considered me to be a strange person.

 

            Arnold advised me, ‘You have to see the people’s fear, you mustn’t see their anger

            and their hatred, you must see that they are afraid. They are frightened when they

            see something that isn’t like them. They don’t understand.’

 

            I agreed with him, but lamented that they are also afraid to try to understand and

            to bridge their differences. I guess everyone lives in the darkness of fear. Well, no,

            not everyone.

 

            After the show is a good time. Everyone is always in a good mood. Jeff picks me up

            by the legs, Tanya takes my arms, and others lift me up and onto their shoulders.

            They transport me through a maze of rooms and around groups of people. Once

            again, I almost feel like I can see. I visualize some rooms are well lit, others are dark

            and cold, some are intimate and others larger. I can feel the shadows, I can touch

            and hear my friends.”

 

Day Three of My Experiment with Three Days of Blindness:

            “I’m still blind. This is the last day. Tonight I take the bandages off. I’ve been having

            the most beautiful images in my head. They are so colorful and vivid. Pictures of

            skies drawn along by the tails of eagles. Illuminated rock walls, shimmering golden

            alongside the deep reds of fallen leaves. An eagles head stares me in the eyes, a

            faint vision before me. A translucent image but strong and full; it comforts me

            and calms me. Another eagle swoops down out of the sky. Full, thick cumulous

            clouds in pastel colors, things I’ve never seen in this way before. I hope I still

            see these things after I regain my other sight. These new visions are wonderful

            although I still run into walls.

 

            Yesterday I went to the beach with mom. We drove up to Goat Rock near Jenner.

            It was a great day. The sun was warm and the kids of the beach were having fun.

            The sounds of the beach travelled so well, I could hear things a hundred feet

            away as if they were right beside me. The crackling of a plastic bag, the shuffling

            of the sand by a walking seagull, and the roar of the ocean.

 

            The birds are chirping right now outside my window and a plane is flying overhead.

           It is still morning. My breath is calm and rhythmic like you might expect your breath

         to be on a morning with no worries. There were planes at the beach also, four of them.

            They flew low, I think they were searching for something. The faint roar of their

            engines slowly closing in over me and flooding my ears, then subsiding, allowing

            the crashing of the waves to once again take center stage. The yell of a Frisbee or

            beach ball player explodes from my left. Mom and I eat yogurt and bananas and

            enjoy the warmth of the sun. Before leaving we walk to the edge of the sea. I hear

            it in front of me. It starts with a soft but full-bodied gush which builds up to a

            crackle, something like the static on a radio, and grows into an entity all its own—

            the powerful roar of the ocean and the crashing of the water as the waves pound

            against the sand. Then the fizzling of the foam as it sneaks its way up to my feet.

            It sounds like hamburgers cooking on the grill and I see this in all its red glory,

            the grease bubbling and frying in my mind, sizzle, the meat redder than the red-

            dest red of the sighted world.

 

            What accounts for this extra color in my minds-eye?

            Does God feel guilty? Is this his way of making it up to the blind? I wonder if all

            blind people can see colors in their minds like I can? (Note: Several days after

            writing this I met a blind man named Ken at the Junior College and I asked him

            about visualization and his perception of colors. Did he see colors, magnificent

            colors, brighter than life? Yes, he did. From what he remembers of how the

            world looks and from the visions he holds now in his mind he said yes, that his

            images are probably a lot more beautiful and colorful than they would be if

            he could see. He was blinded six years ago. I wonder what the blind from birth

            see. I bet they can visualize colors too.)

 

            I made chocolate chip cookies last night and they came out good. It is really

            not all that difficult to do. Last night I also felt the helplessness of the sightless.

            Alone in the house, having just made my tofu and bean burrito, I sat in the

            darkness of the livingroom. I listened to the music filling the room from the open

            balcony door above. What is someone was in the house? I would be completely

            at their mercy, even if it were a friend, they could still play with me and scare me.

            It sounds like footsteps upstairs as the music ends. I can’t take these band-

            ages off. I’m really blind. A clanking sound from the kitchen adds to my fear

            and my breath grows deeper and louder. The stillness enters my body and

            freezes there, stiffly. I hear crunching, a crack, and another crunch. It’s the cat.

            I hear a tongue in motion and reach out to feel the fur of our kitten. ‘Meow.’

            What defense did I have if it was someone? I couldn’t even run away.

 

            From my experience, in regards to eating and drinking, I think blind people

            should use plastic cups and no utensils. The hands work perfectly well for

            eating. It might seem primitive and barbaric but its also utilitarian and that’s

            what matters.

 

            I’m going to paint one of the images in my head using the new acrylics I

            bought. It should be interesting and exciting! I memorized the order of the

            paints before I put the bandages on so I would know what colors I’m using.

            In the front row, from right to left, they go: white, black, yellow, magenta,

            scarlet red, deep brilliant red. In the back row from left to right: bronze

            yellow, light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green and purple.

 

            To use the telephone I center my three middle fingers on the center row of

            numbers, with the middle finger on the five, then using the relationship I

            know between this and the others I make the call.”

 

To Be Continued…

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