May 16, 2007
Blind: Think Again
Nearly every day, I sit back and think - "I'm so fortunate to not only have amazingly smart people in my life but people who constantly live on the edge, push creativity, heart, passion, intellect and intuition beyond limits. Always. Tony Deifell is another wonderful example.
Imagine teaching blind and seeing impaired teenagers how to shoot. Pictures. With a camera. Images they cannot see.
If this doesn't make you think again and again.......and make you feel glorious and hopeful inside. "I was thinking it would be sort of hard for a blind person to take pictures but its not very hard. You just have to listen," John - age 19.
This experience isn’t about blindness – it is about seeing, noticing and paying attention with more than your eyes.
Years ago, I worked with the Mass Association for the Blind in Boston. One project I managed was helping the sight impaired get equipment, donations and run in the Boston marathon. It is a very common human mistake for someone new to working with blind people to either raise their voice or take extra precautions you feel that they 'need,' when in fact they don't.
I was walking with one of the blind runners near Newbury Street and grabbed onto his arm. My instinct: protection, i.e., he was walking too fast. (I felt). His instinct: thankfully since we had already established a solid rapport, he laughed. "Renee," he said, "my legs work just fine."
It's a natural reaction for many of us and while it didn't take long to adapt (my uncle who I spent most holidays growing up was blinded in WW2), I still had to think twice. In other words, when one sense is turned off, your other senses are accentuated in ways others cannot truly understand, like John's beautiful comment above demonstrates.
Tony and team dares people to take an interesting challenge. People have done it in Africa, Cambodia, Australia and the United States.
1. Blindfold yourself.
2. Go out in public and make your way in the world.
3. Photograph things you notice. And, just notice.
4. Embrace the whole experience as much as the picture taking.
5. Challenge some friends to do it. Send them the link.
A rabbi once told Tony that in the Talmud, blind people are referred to as "sagi nahor," an Aramaic expression that means "great eyesight." As the rabbi explained, perhaps people who are blind see more than
those who are sighted; perhaps there is seeing beyond sight.
When he worked with blind students, it was as if they were listening for "sound shadows." Seeing Beyond Sight is about seeing in the broadest sense. He uses the physical behavior of light as a metaphor for the book's five chapters: Distortion, Refraction, Reflection, Transparence & Illuminance.
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