The Better to See…

Big Sur and fog on a typical day in June. Phot...

 Big Sur and fog on a typical day in June.

“Those are some blue eyes you’ve got there, young lady,” she said softly.
“The better to see you with,” I replied.
What am I seeing and what are others seeing in me? How would my perception of my world change if sight left the equation?
I met a man at Esalen a few years ago. His name was Buddy. Buddy was blind from birth. He wore those naked shoes, the kind with toes that have a thin rubber sole that forms to your foot. He told me they had made a big difference in his feeling of security when he walks. Buddy has a blind person’s cane for feeling in front of him but he doesn’t use it much.
The first day he arrived his friend who worked in the kitchen and had guested him on campus took him into the lodge after it was closed so he could feel his way around without any people to deal with. He memorized the placement of the tables and benches, the serving tables, the drink bar and the rest rooms. The next day he was navigating by himself without his cane. I was pretty impressed!
He was eating alone so I sat next to him and introduced myself. In the course of our conversation I learned that he had lived in St. Louis (so had I) and we knew common neighborhoods. I also learned that he was a massage therapist (so am I) and we made plans to do a trade. I don’t know what attracted me to this man at first, perhaps I was so blown away by his independence. He seemed fearless to me. By the end of lunch, with a goodly portion in his beard, I had a found a friend. Enough so that I offered to clean the salad from his beard which got a laugh and welcomed “go for it!”
For the rest of the week Buddy and I hung out. I gave him a CranioSacral treatment and he gave me a massage. His ability to sense tension in my body and know how and where to touch was exquisite. We enjoyed each other’s company. We shared stories and I was continually educated about what life is like without eyes. Not really different from life with eyes!
“How can that be?” I asked him.
As best I can recall, this is what he told me. “We come into this world with varying degrees of sensitivity to our environment. We “read” our surroundings with our senses. You and I are sitting here in the same environment. The fact that you can see and I cannot doesn’t change our environment. I am probably hearing and smelling things that you are not. You are seeing things that I am not. We are both taking in information about our surroundings which is influencing us. We make choices in part based on what we perceive from our environment. My choices and yours may differ because of something you see that I don’t…or something I hear that you don’t. None of that really matters in the end. What matters are peace of mind and feelings of joyousness. These don’t come from sight. They come from insight. They come from gratitude for life in all its forms regardless of the challenges we face.”
I am inspired to be grateful whenever Buddy comes to my mind…not grateful that I can see…grateful that I met him. Ironic this, that a blind man helped me see the world more clearly and live more fearlessly.
Blessings on you, Sweet Buddy, wherever you are.

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