Have you ever been curious about how blind people live or how they experience the world and lead their daily lives? I was. I still am. In fact, I was curious enough to live blind for a week. How, you may ask? I wore dark sunglasses and closed my eyes, creating a world of complete darkness.
During my first day of blindness, my friends and I attended a local junior team football game. I was immediately thrown into a world of relying on the aid and guidance of others. Having to hold onto a friend’s arm or shirt whiles constantly being ‘lost’ is an unimaginable struggle. Over the next few days I lived the life of a student – going to clubs, pubs, casinos and parties. Having had no sight meant places I visited only existed in my imagination. I was only able to mentally map areas with my feet.
Imagine this: you cannot go to the bathroom or buy a drink or go to the mall…unaided.
As time passed, I began to feel the social effects of blindness. Friends and bystanders became frustrated by my dependency – which was completely understandable. Although my hearing and sense of awareness developed over the week, something like holding a conversation was not all that simple due to the fact that I could not read or see body language or maintain eye contact. A sort of barrier existed between me and the outside world making deeper communication is a struggle. Something like a noisy room or club became an impossibility to focus in. It became incredibly hard to distinguish sounds as well as their origins between the white and pink noise spectrums of loud music and ambience.
With regards to meeting new people, I realised that my perception of them was formed only by their voice and vocabulary. They existed entirely in my imagination. Age, race, weight and beauty became truly inconsequential. My philosophical-self brought me to a new conclusion on the old saying that ‘Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’. I realised that, contradictorily, beauty lies within the heart of the beheld.
My experience and findings even became applicable to life as a whole: ‘Simply because you cannot see it, does not mean it is not there.’
If you were incapable of seeing with you eyes, you would never turn on the lights in your house – you would live in darkness. You would not be able to read this particular piece of writing. You would not be able to describe the colour of a rose. You would not be able to balance your outfit.
You are blind.
I realised that sight is an incredible gift, easily taken for granted.
Rest assured, next time I see a girl, flower, sunset or artwork…I’ll see it in a different way.
Written by: Reuben Oosthuysten
Edited and posted by: Angelique Delamere