Complaint And The Blind Men,
is the companion piece to
to the chagrin of those who regard plurality as the only meaningful
domain in the realm of choice, has long asserted true choice is a
rather than a decision. In Werner's universe it's possible to choose
chocolate when given the choice "chocolate or
vanilla" just as it's possible to choose chocolate when
given the choice "chocolate".
In that regard,
is a function of choosing what is. It's obvious, really, in that almost
embarrassed "Why didn't I think of that myself?" kind of
way, isn't it? It, whatever it is, is always what is. So
choosing what is ensures you'll always have what you want.
is at the start of the rainbow, not at the end of it.
Clearly that's not always an obvious nor an easy choice to make, given
the kinds of circumstances human beings move in. Even when it's
obvious, it takes a certain strength of character, a certain
to make that kind of choice again and again and again and to stick with
it in all situations under all circumstances.
When I stop and look, I see those things in my life about which I
complain, are those situations and circumstances which I haven't
chosen. And here I'm not referring to having chosen in the "chocolate
or vanilla - choose!" sense. I'm referring to having chosen in
the "chocolate - choose!" sense.
Recently I had an experience which gave me an idea of what it's like to
live a life other than the life I live. It gave me an insight into
another way of living which prompted me to re-evaluate everything I
complain about in the life I have. It gave me more than that actually.
It honed my sense of choosing what is as a means to owning
situations and circumstances in my life I don't like or don't want -
hence resurrecting some
over them rather than being a complaint about them.
of mine introduced me to two men who have been blind since birth.
They looked in my direction by triangulating the sound of my voice.
Although they couldn't see me, I
a conversation by asking if they could see shapes or vague outlines ...
or what. I asked what vision was like for them. Bruce said
to me "I can see as much with my eyes as you can see with your
elbow" - at which they both convulsed in peals of laughter.
I overheard them talking with each other in animated tones. I wasn't
intending to eavesdrop. Yet I quite clearly heard Bruce say to Greg
"Then the Maître D' offers him a wafer thin mint, a
waffer thin mint, he eats the waffer thin
mint, and then he ... EXPLODES!!!" ... more peals of laughter.
It took me but a second to realize they were talking about the Monty
Python classic The Meaning Of Life.
"Wait just a moment ..." I said hesitatingly. "Surely you guys haven't
... movies??? How do you do that?".
Bruce said "With lots of practice!", and again they both convulsed with
They eventually told me they
movies by a combination of listening, and by having a
describe the scenes when there's no voice over. Also, apparently there
available for movies which describe the scenes for blind people in much
the same way as subtitles translate the dialogue of foreign
When I got that, I realized I would have to rework my distinction
vision. Clearly Bruce and Greg do have the
distinction vision. It's the distinction eyesight
they don't have.
Knowing that, didn't alter my intrigue one iota. It's hard for me to
even conceive of living in a
without eyesight. I complain when even the smallest things don't
in my universe. I simply can't imagine living in one in which my eyes
at all. Now that would be something worth complaining
about. And yet here are Bruce and Greg, totally blind, laughing at a
Monty Python movie? There was something afoot here I couldn't quite get
them, I got more and more
in whatever that something was. They have no guides -
neither canine nor human. Yet that doesn't stop them getting around.
Amazingly it doesn't stop them getting others around
either. One afternoon I allowed Bruce to lead me (I really want you to
get that: he led me) along a corridor, into an
him find both the call button on an expanse of wall outside the
elevator, as well as the floor button within the cabin), down a flight
of steps, and out onto the sidewalk of a busy five lane street. I asked
him if there was anything I could do for him. He declined. Then we said
our goodbyes, and he strode off tapping his cane until he came to an
intersection and crossed the street.
How does he do that?
Even now, it takes me a while to really get that: a
totally blind man crossing a busy five lane street, unescorted.
But that wasn't the last thing that gripped my
On another occasion I saw Greg at work at a
As an aid, he wore a headphone through which a special software program
"spoke" wherever his cursor was located on the screen. Greg wasn't just
pointing and clicking. He was writing a source code
program in a very detailed and ancient computer
To do that, he had to have his entire
desktop laid out in his awareness in the same way as Bruce had a busy
five lane street laid out in his so he could negotiate it.
Perhaps with practice you could close your eyes and find your way
around your house. Now consider closing your eyes and finding your way
desktop using a keyboard and a mouse, and
high level source code accurately. Easy?
I asked the group I was with, for driving directions to a place I
planned to meet a
for dinner. You guessed it: Bruce and Greg gave me detailed driving
directions which were more accurate and easier to understand than the
sighted people in the group. Bruce, however, qualified that by saying
"But I doubt you would want me to drive you there ...".
And again the fits of raucous laughter.
How do they live in that
How do they live in a
devoid of something physical I consider to be major - like
eyesight? When I have a cold (which isn't often) I
complain. When my body has issues, even minor ones, I complain. How
then is it possible to live without eyesight?
Then I got it. My choice is "blind or eyesight". Their
choice is "blind".
is a function of choosing what is. And they've chosen. That's it.
That's all. Simple.
boggled on top of being boggled until eventually I just let it all go
and allowed an enormous respect and awe to come in.