Tuesday, 10 December 2013

We are Blind.

'and all you see is where else you could be/ when you're at home, 
and out on the street/ are so many possibilities to not be alone'
-Your Heart is an Empty Room, Death Cab for Cutie 

I was sitting in my room, feeling pretty rubbish Saturday afternoon when I got a message from a mate. 'How are you doing?' the message read, I replied I was doing okay and that I was at home feeling a little depressed. My mate replied a few moments later telling me to get out! She said, Sy you need to leave your room! And so I did. I got dressed and I got the train to Waterloo and when I got there, I walked out of the station and headed to the river, feeling slightly better with every step I took. 

As I wandered around the South Bank, the grey clouds started to clear revealing the most beautiful sunset I'd seen in forever, the pavements were full of people--- countless faces, countless stories, countless words--- all blurred but all joyous. Christmas at the South Bank is quite magical... to watch the children play, to see families come together to enjoy the festivities, to stare at elderly couples wandering arm in arm, to listen to multiple fragments of conversation---- to experience--- just see, to just be--- lost-- in a crowd--- it's quite an indescribable experience.   

And so as I wandered aimlessly in the crowds, I was struck by three people who to me stood out from everyone else. A blind man in a blue raincoat, a blind woman in a yellow jacket, both clutching onto sticks and each other, and a plump man who was taking them around. I followed them intrigued, both by the secret smiles on their bright faces and by the way they were moving together- in sync-- ever so slowly, ever so closely---. I was intrigued by the way they would stop to take in their surroundings, there by the river, the sun setting majestically over London, the crowds so thick, the smell of cinnamon so sweet, there by the Christmas Markets-- pure magic for all to enjoy. 

So I followed the trio, I stopped when they stopped, watching them. I watched as they stood in front of the silver painted man, when the woman was taken over to him by the plump carer, when she shook his silver hand and when the two- the blind man and blind woman stood in front of him as the carer took a picture--- both faces so kind, both eyes absent--- both smiling for a photo they would never see, but both fully present, fully alive and happy-----a feeling, a feeling like no other. My eyes began to well up, I was moved. And so they continued and I followed them, experiencing my surroundings in a way I never had before.

I watched as they stood in front of the woman in gold, and as they moved on to the man who was playing the steel pans. I listened with them. I followed as they took there place in a crowd in front of some performers. I watched at the carer relayed to them what was going on, both were still smiling, openly, knowingly, almost as though they knew exactly what was in front of them, the world open wide, it was though they could almost feel the tug of the tide, the whisper of the river, they were present and they never let go of each other- not for a moment, the crowds moved, they flit, they roared, but not them- they just emanated peace and calm- they seemed so in tune with real life, to the present. Blind, but seeing, really seeing in ways that I wasn't. 

And so I watched them as they finally ascended up the steps of the bridge, so slow, so close, as the people around them rushed like whirlwinds on fire, and then I turned the corner and kept walking, feeling so uplifted, so blessed to be alive, to see the sunset sky, to witness human people defy, the barriers placed in front of them. Happiness is a choice. We can choose to be happy despite all the challenges we face, despite all the obstacles in our way, despite our set backs and failures and short-comings. There- witnessing others live and love, looking outside oneself and seeing the sunset sky, I think to myself, we are too too blind. We're too blind to recognise sheer beauty when we see it. We are too blind, too often. We are blinded by our own lack of vision, we are blinded by our own short-sightedness, we are blinded by our own pain---- so much so that we cannot see others,' we cannot see others. For these two blind people, by God they could see! And what I learnt by following them for half an hour, I could not have learnt from any book! I learnt to go slow, to be patient, to stay close to those I love and to smile! I really hope we can all find news ways of seeing, of learning, of being. May we learn wherever go- to love, to give and to be ever grateful. God bless.