Reflections on Three Days of Blindness: Part III and Conclusion

           “I just finished the painting. It was so scary to begin. Before I had even

            squirted any of the paint out, I was paralyzed—I might waste some paint,

            and one of my canvasses—but it was more than the fear of wasting five

            dollars worth of materials; this would be an expression of me. It would be

            my best attempt at art. There is always this fear before beginning any

            creative process, the fear that it might not be good enough, that I might

            not be good enough; it is only a little harder now since I’m not working

            with all of my faculties. The funny thing is however, even though I couldn’t

            see the art I knew I would still automatically assume it wasn’t quite right.

            Sure I’d be excited to see it but, I knew I’d also be telling everyone how much

            better could do. All of this was automatic in me even before seeing the results.

            With this painting though I was paranoid knowing that my hands could never

            equal the grandeur of the visions created by my mind. But then I realized and

            accepted this fact, that a hand is not a mind, and it works within its own

            limitations. At this point I felt free to paint and have a good time regardless

            of the outcome.”

 

As I read this I think how all of our life is a creative process, not just specifically painting or writing etc, and how easy it is to be paralyzed with this same fear of not measuring up, of failing, so to speak, and how effective these fears are at keeping us from even beginning to know who we are, and then, from exploring and practicing our art; the art of our lives. There is a method I now use to combat these fears, which is very effective; it is using fear to combat fear. I use the knowledge and fear that I will die one day as a counter to the fear of failing. Each day I meditate on the fact that my time here in this life is very limited, I will die, and I don’t have the luxury of waiting to do whatever it is I want to accomplish. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  Somehow these thoughts give me clarity and are very encouraging, and motivating to my getting on with this creative process which is my life.

            “Later in the afternoon Tanya and Nicole were over and we played hide and

            seek in the backyard. Finding Nicole was easy as I was concentrating on the

            sounds she made as she hid. But finding Tanya was nearly impossible. I knew

            which part of the yard she was in because she let out a sound when I found

            Nicole, but finding her was very difficult. I kept hearing things that I was

            sure was her: up in the trees, next to the fence. But I couldn’t find her. After

            a long time she gave me a hint, a scratch on wood, and I was able to catch her.

 

            There is less than an hour now until I take the bandages off and I’m feeling

            kind of down. I almost don’t want to take them off. I’ve grown to like it dark.

            I don’t know why I would want to stay in this darkness but it has been new

            and I like the strange newness. It gets me out of a rut in a beautiful way. I

            don’t have to go out of town to do this, I can just cover my eyes and I am

            transported to another place; the most mundane things suddenly become

            important. It makes me really live this life, and not just drift through it.”

 

Blindness is like a break for the eyes, at least for someone only experimenting briefly with it as I was. Back in the late 1980s when I did the experiment we didn’t have the internet and smart phone, so now, even more so, our lives are extremely visually chaotic. Taking a break from all of that stimulation is a good idea.

            “What a drug sight can be; I just took the bandages off. I indulge in the visual

            now and almost fry my brain! Taking them off and seeing the sunset was some-

            thing I couldn’t have foreseen. It was more real and vivid and wonderful than

            anything I’ve ever seen. It was the ultimate in perception! I know that I won’t

            be able to aptly describe it on these pages but this is my best attempt. At first

            everything before me was blurred but only for a short time, and then I saw

            the tree against the background of the sky. Each small branch shimmered

            with its own life, an entity of its own. Deep, dark, blackness, so rich and deep

            like nothing I’ve seen before. Every twig, every limb, burnt savagely into the

            soft blue sky. And then the sun…the sun ducked down behind the trees and the

            bright halo arose from the dark mountain and filled the sky. It then began to

            shrink and as it shrunk it gained intensity until it burst and spurt brilliant

            light across the sky, across the valley, filling my vision with brilliance. What

            remained was a pastel yellow globe of light just above the horizon. To either

            side of the globe, just above the treeline, shot out a bright red line of light; it

            flickered and suddenly vanished. The blue and orange of the sky turned pas-

            tel. The air gained new life from the light of the sinking sun. A bird arose from

            the shimmering tree and shot past me. Then I turned to my left and saw the

            deepest, most crisp shades of purples and blues of the distant and not so dis-

            tant hills. And the hill I was on was pure also; it was green but it was also

            blue. It was both at the same time but it wasn’t confused or muddy; it was

            clarity. I had the feeling about my eyes as if the sights I was should be out of

            focus but all that I saw was crisper and richer than it had ever been. My eyes

            hurt but I kept looking. It struck be that everything I saw was alive and had

            just been born—the world was starting over, afresh! I then turned and looked

            behind me. There I saw my hill, the one I sit on all the time. The trees were

            black and green, all shades and hues, full and real; I was drunk with what

            I saw. Everything reached out and touched me, nothing stayed still, it all

            reached out to me: the purple hills, the dark green trees, my hill, the burnt

            black tree, the sky, and the light of the disappearing sun. All these reached

            out and stung my eyes. I turned to my right and there was a girl. She was

            so small it seemed but also so big. She was beautiful. Her eyes light blue,

            dark blue rimmed, and happy. She was so close but she also seemed very

            far away. I couldn’t touch her but I was glad she was there and I know I

            talked to her but I don’t know what I said, something about the beauty

            around us. This feeling didn’t go away as it seems it would, like so many ter-

            rific things do, but it stayed with me and surrounded me and caressed me

            for a long time. I saw in this way and I felt complete.”

  

Conclusion of My Experiment with Three Days of Blindness:

            “It was an overwhelming experience. I am so glad I got to ‘see’ it. I feel very

            lucky. Now I can see and I don’t know if I care. Sure I don’t run into walls

            or trucks anymore, and I think that’s a good thing, but I feel as if I’ve lost

            something important. I look at my painting and it looks so different than

            I had intended it. It is very beautiful to me. The colors aren’t exactly what

            I thought they would be but it’s a bubbly surprise. Now I reenter the com-

            plicated world of sight where it isn’t good enough to spend an hour making

            breakfast. Things like that are miniscule in this world. They don’t matter,

            they are the mundane, the ‘so what’ of this world. How could I justify

            spending an hour touching the canvas and the paint of my art? Just drink-

            ing in the texture and communing with the colors—realizing the import-

            ance, the relevance it has in my life. Sure, what I think about it is the most

            important thing, and if I think it is alright to do this than it is. Although,

            what other people think is important as well. For many, this isn’t a univer-

           sally acceptable way to spend one’s time. So it is therefore hard to feel

           entirely good about doing it. But while blind, all of these supposedly unim-

            portant things become and are important, meaningful and worthwhile.

            No-one can say otherwise and I feel content with this simplicity. Now I’m

            in the harried world of sight where we are stimulated by too many things.

            We must rush off to school or to work, I have work to get done, I must be

            in certain places at certain times, and there is television and newspapers

            and books to read, shows to see, and sports to enjoy. I think that there is

            too much to think about, too much stimulation. I’m not entirely glad to

            have my sight back. It means jumping back into this whirlwind that we’ve

            all been spinning around in so long. A whirlwind that’s got us dizzy and

            confused, and that stirs up the dust and leaves us with tears in our eyes.

            The tears of our souls crying to escape this tormenting tempest.

 

            I wonder if I’ll still have the vivid visions of the eagles and the beautiful

            pictures that my mind created during these past few days. I would hate to

            lose that.

 

            What satisfaction I felt from making my meals or making some cookies.

            It seems it would be the same, the feeling of fulfillment, if I had a plot of

            land somewhere and I could wake in the morning and build maybe a part

            of my home, maybe the bathroom today or a windmill for energy. What

            satisfaction that would be, and to plant the seeds that would sometime

            later be my food, and to write and paint and cook—how simple. How

            meaningless and wasteful…but it isn’t. It is simple and it is pure, and whole

            and unscattered, and unhurried, and easy to keep everything in front of

            me. Not confusing; just peaceful…

 

            It was a wonderful experiment and a great ‘vacationland’. Instead of

            travelling far away I travelled within and found a whole world of mir-

            aculous sights and breathtaking beauty—a land that reached farther

            than the eye can see, and that holds more to do than the greatest family

            amusement park. It is a land whose limits exceed infinity and whose

            treasures I’ve only just begun to dig up. This land of wonder is my mind.”

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