“I have walked with people whose eyes are full of light but who see nothing in sea or sky, nothing in city streets, nothing in books. It were far better to sail forever in the night of blindness with sense, and feeling, and mind, than to be content with the mere act of seeing. The only lightless dark is the night of darkness in ignorance and insensibility.” ~ Helen Keller …
I often wonder what it would be like to be blind. Sometimes, I close my eyes tightly and try to get around the house as if I were blind… it is my attempt to imagine things without truly seeing them. I can never imagine just what it would be like, though, for I have already spent many years seeing–I will always have the memories of vision there in my mind. The blindness of not seeing would be a tragedy for those of us who have already experienced the visual splendor of our world.
Helen Keller is willing to accept physical blindness for what it is. And here, she calls us to task for not seeing even though we have the physical capability to do so. What have I missed in life in spite of my ability to see? What has passed me by because of my insensibility–my unwillingness or inability to see the world around me and all the people in it?
Literary works throughout the ages have explored the concept of blindness–probably the most famous is Shakespeare’s King Lear. He knows his daughters as his daughters, but he is completely blind to their true natures because he refuses to know them deeply and truly. In the play, he ends up actually losing his eyes as a result of his ignorance and blindness.
If we can see, we take what we see for granted. If we can hear, we take for granted all the sounds that we can hear. If we can taste, we take flavors for granted. If we can speak, we take our voice and ability to talk for granted. If we can think, we take our mental capacity and cognitive abilities for granted. We work ourselves into a state of ignorance of the true nature of things, and we lose our ability to see past the surface of people and things. Since we are not physically blind, we should take every opportunity to take advantage of the gifts we have–especially the gift of sight to see the beautiful world in which we live.
Close your eyes for several minutes and just imagine what it would be like if you could not see the world around you?
Questions to consider:
What are some of the things you see regularly, but do not really “see?”
How long do you continue to notice the beauty of something new you bought for your home? Do you stop noticing its beauty regularly?
What does it take to see past the surface of a person? How can seeing cure us of ignorance?
For further thought:
“Why did we become blind” the doctor’s wife asks. In Saramago’s distinctive dialogue format, her husband replies and she responds: “I don’t know, perhaps one day we’ll find out, Do you want me to tell you what I think, Yes, do, I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.” ~ Jose Saramago