I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be blind. I’ve often considered blindfolding myself for a day to force myself to experience it.
I never have, mostly for practical reasons, though in high school I avoided speaking for 24 hours — quite a feat for someone as talkative as me. (Translation: I never shut up.)
For a while, I forgot about blindness except when it would pop up here and there (like when I watched Blindness, starring Mark Ruffalo). But the issue came to the forefront a few days ago when I read an article from one of my favorite money bloggers about stoicism and negative visualization.
Most people think of visualization in terms of manifesting what they want in their lives, generally something that isn’t already present. More money, more success, a partner, a career, a dream home and so forth.
However, as discussed in last week’s column, focusing on what isn’t present in your life can lead to feeling deprived of something you’re owed.
Negative visualization, on the other hand, is the practice of pretending you’ve lost something you currently have in order to gain greater appreciation. Blindfolding myself for a day, for example, would help me realize just how precious my sight is.
I finished reading the article and promised myself I’d try it, though whether I actually would was up for debate. (I read lots of good ideas, but there are only so many hours in the day to do what other people say is important, much less what you feel is essential.)
But it seems I wasn’t finished with this theme yet.
As the clock ran below 24 hours till my departure for California, I took a break from packing and settled into a movie in the evening.
It was Perfect Sense, an indie film starring Ewan McGregor and the lovely Eva Green about an epidemic that causes the world’s population to lose its sense of smell, then its sense of taste.
The movie is gracefully told through the experiences of a chef (McGregor) working at a fine restaurant — a perfect lens through which to view the losses of food-centric senses — and an epidemiologist (Green) at the center of research on the epidemic.
However, rather than focus its attention solely on the science, the film provides only enough epidemiological information to power the story forward as the two characters fall in love in spite (or because) of their significant loss.
Not only did tears spring to my eyes at the end, I walked away from the film feeling my entire perception of reality had changed: here were people losing their senses, yet appreciating life more as they did.
I was profoundly grateful that I experienced it, and during the next days, my gratitude increased.
I feel extremely thankful for all the help I received moving to California — from my parents, who helped me pack and drove with me for several days; to my grandparents, who stopped by with their support and love and a gift of some money; to my friends who wished me success and sent their love.
The next day, I felt even more gratitude as I talked to the waitress at a restaurant where we stopped for WiFi. I saw her humanity, her spirit and her struggles in little mosaics painted in and around her, and I thanked God for it.
And as we traveled south into Nebraska and onward, I closed my eyes to appreciate my sight, just for a few minutes.