"Only the deaf appreciate hearing, only the blind realize the manifold blessings that lie in sight. Particularly does this observation apply to those who have lost sight and hearing in adult life. But those who have never suffered impairment of sight or hearing seldom make the fullest use of these blessed faculties. Their eyes and ears take in all sights and sounds hazily, without concentration and with little appreciation.
Now and then I have tested my seeing friends to discover what they see. Recently I was visited by a very good friend who had just returned from a long walk in the woods, and I asked her what she had observed. 'Nothing in particular,' she replied. I might have been incredulous had I not been accustomed to such responses, for long ago I became convinced that the seeing see little.
How was it possible, I asked myself, to walk for an hour through the woods and see nothing worthy of note? I who cannot see find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch. I feel the delicate symmetry of a leaf. I pass my hands lovingly about the smooth skin of a silver birch, or the rough, shaggy bark of a pine. In spring I touch the branches of trees hopefully in search of a bud, the first sign of awakening Nature after her winter's sleep. I feel the delightful, velvety texture of a flower, and discover its remarkable convolutions; and something of the miracle of Nature is revealed to me. Occasionally, if I am very fortunate, I place my hand gently on a small tree and feel the happy quiver of a bird in full song. I am delighted to have the cool waters of a brook rush through my open fingers. To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug. To me the pageant of seasons is a thrilling and unending drama, the action of which streams through my finger tips.
At times my heart cries out with longing to see all these things. If I can get so much pleasure from mere touch, how much more beauty must be revealed by sight. Yet, those who have eyes apparently see little. The panorama of color and action which fills the world is taken for granted. It is human, perhaps, to appreciate little that which have and to long for that which we have not, but it is a great pity that in the world of light the gift of sight is used only as a mere convenience rather than as a means of adding fullness to life."
"If I were the president of a university, I should establish a compulsory course in 'How to Use Your Eyes'. The professor would try to show his pupils how they could add joy to their lives by really seeing what passes unnoticed before them. He would try to awake their dormant and sluggish faculties.
Perhaps I can best illustrate by imagining what I should most like to see if I was given the use of my eyes, say, for just three days. And while I am imagining, suppose you, too, set your mind to work on the problem of how to work on the problem of how you would use your own eyes if you had only three days to see. If with the oncoming darkness if the third night you knew that the sun would never rise for you again, how would you spend those three intervening days? What would you most want to let your gaze rest upon?
I, naturally, should want most to see the things which have become dear to me through my years of darkness. You, too, would want to let your eyes rest long on the things that have become dear to you so that you could take the memory of them with you into the night that loomed before you. If, by some miracle, I were granted three seeing days, to be followed by a relapse into darkness, I should divide the period into three parts.
On the first day, I should want to see the people whose kindness and gentleness and companionship have made my life worth living. … I know my friends from the feel of their faces. But I cannot really picture their personalities, of course, through the thoughts they express to me, through whatever of their actions are revealed to me. But I am denied that deeper understanding of them which I am sure would come through sight of them, through watching their reactions to various expressed and circumstances, through noting the immediate and fleeting reactions of their eyes and countenance.…
In the afternoon of that first seeing day, I should take a long walk in the woods and intoxicate my eyes on the beauties of the world of Nature, trying desperately to absorb in a few hours the vast splendor which is constantly unfolding itself to those who can see. On the way home from my woodland jaunt my path would lie near a farm so that I might see the patient horses ploughing in the field (perhaps I should see only a tractor!) and the serene content of men living close to the soil. And I should pray for the glory of a colorful sunset.… In the night of that first day of sight, I should not be able to sleep, so full would be my mind of the memories of the day.
The next day - the second day of sight - I should arise with the dawn and see the thrilling miracle by which night is transformed into day. I should behold with awe the magnificent panorama of light with which the sun awakens the sleeping earth. This day I should devote to a hasty glimpse of the world, past and present. I should want to see the pageant of man's progress, the kaleidoscope of the ages. How can so much compressed into one day? Through the museums, of course. …
The following morning, I should again greet the dawn, anxious to discover new delights, for I am sure that, for those who have eyes which really see, the dawn of each day must be a perpetually new revelation of beauty…. Today I shall spend in the workday world of the present, amid the haunts of men going about the business of life. And where one can find so many activities and conditions of men as in New York? So the city becomes my destination.…My third day of sight is drawing to an end. Perhaps there are many serious pursuits to which I should devote the few remaining hours, but I am afraid that on the evening of that last day I should run away to the theatre, to a hilariously funny play, so that I might appreciate the overtones of comedy in the human spirit.
At midnight my temporary respite from blindness would cease, and permanent night would close in on me again. Naturally in those three short days, I should not have seen all I wanted to see. Only when darkness had again descended upon me should I realize how much I had left unseen. But my mind would be so overcrowded with glorious memories that I should have little time for regrets. Thereafter the touch of every object would bring a glowing memory of how that object looked.
Perhaps this short outline of how I should spend three days of sight does not agree with the program you would set for yourself if you knew that you were about to be stricken blind. I am, however, sure that if you actually faced that fate your eyes would open to things you had never seen before, storing up memories for the long night ahead. You would use your eyes as never before. Everything you saw would become dear to you. Your eyes would touch and embrace every object that came within your range of vision. Then, at last, you would really see, and a new world of beauty would open itself before you.
I who am blind can give one hint to those who see - one admonition to those who would make full use of the gift of sight: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. And the same method can be applied to other senses. Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object you want to touch as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. Make the most of every sense; glory in all the facets of pleasure and beauty which the world reveals to you through the several means of contact which Nature provides. But of all the senses, I am sure that sight must be the most delightful."
(The short version of the essay by Helen Keller as published in Atlantic Monthly (January, 1933))
It is an amazing essay. It made me almost cry when I first read it. Indeed, she is right. We think very little of the constant blessings. We take them for granted. Even though we have sight and other senses, we are no different from blind people because we do not use them. Thus, the essay makes us think and see the vast beauty around us. I could not help but read the essay several times. I know Helen Keller’s heartbreaking life story. What made me cry was not her story.
She is no different from people her age. The reality of death is what makes them all equal. Thus, there is no need to pity her since she was blind and deaf while others at that time could enjoy the beauty of life. They are now all blind and deaf. They do not even have the blessing of touch anymore. Thus, we need to cry for them all, not just for Helen Keller. Soon, we will be joining them as well. Therefore, I believe the above tragic story is not hypothetical or historical. It is an allegorical story of every human being. Yes, we all have only three days (72 hours) to see, hear, touch, and taste the beauty of this world if we use the scale of one hour for one year. After all, once it is all over, there will be barely any difference between one hour and one year. Is there any hope for not losing the great blessing of experiencing a beautiful life?
Is there any way to keep our sight and senses forever? These are the questions we need to ask. In fact, nothing should be more important than answering these questions. In the answers to these questions lies the deep desire of every human being. Even an atheist like Nietzsche cries for eternity when repeatedly declaring his love for it: “Never yet have I found the woman by whom I should like to have children unless it be this woman whom I love: for I love you, O Eternity! For I love you, O Eternity!” That is because love without eternity is nothing but ultimate misery since the beloved ones- sooner or laterwill be lost forever.
Does the essay above give any hope for eternity? No, it does not, because it seems like the author was not aware of ultimate reality. She was able to sense physical beauty through touching. However, it seems she was deprived of seeing anything beyond. Perhaps, she was blinded to the ultimate reality through secular education. That is why she attributed miraculous things in life to Nature. In the end, she made it clear that all forms of beauty are provided by Nature. One might argue that Nature is just another word for God. This is not true. The word choice is not just rhetorical. It reflects a huge difference in the worldview. Yes, Nature stands for God in a secular worldview. However, nature is blind, deaf, and ignorant. It does not hear our desire for eternity.
Then, what should we do? We should never settle for anything less than the eternal. We should seek the One who can give us eternity. This is only possible when we go beyond appearances and see the Divine Power in everything. In fact, that is what we aim to provide in the 5D thinking approach- which opens the eyes to other dimensions of reality beyond the factual one. For that, we need to engage in analogical, critical, and meditative thinking. We need to connect the dots. Is that easy to do? In my view, it is extremely easy.
In fact, just as Helen Keller was shocked with the blindness of her friend to beauty, I am shocked how by how some people are blind to the Divine Power. We need a little reflection to open the eyes of our mind to see Him. If we remove the veil of deaf causes, ignorant nature, and blind chance, we will realize that the Infinite Power, Knowledge, Wisdom, and Mercy reveals Himself through everything in life. We will hear Him speaking to us through His creative acts every moment. Once we find Him, we will find everything, including eternity. We will solve the riddle of life. We will read its meaning. We will be full of sincere appreciation to Him for granting us our mind and five senses with which we can enjoy the vast beauty of the universe. We will rely on His Mercy to preserve our senses and reveal His beauty for constant enjoyment and appreciation.