Hello, today I bring to you this long story. It’s been translated from Como percibe el mundo alguien legalmente ciego. I’ve also made some modifications to the English version, but the essence doesn’t change.
I share this with you because there are much ignorance about how we, blinds, survive in this world. I’m not telling that you’re ignorant in a derogatory way, but I really hope this comes handy to you. Get on it!
It will take you 20 minutes, approximately.
What do I perceive?
Undoubtedly, describing surroundings by someone whose senses lie limited in the small immensity of their existence may turn difficult. But as for divine grace, there are marvels of nature that allow a great number of skills and qualities to be developed, even in that smallness. And they may seem skills and qualities worth of unusually non-human beings.
Without yet going further into social issues, the truth is that in many areas of our lives we consider ourselves, or we are considered, non-human, non-existant or even invisible beings. It is not that I believe so, well at least in a 99.99%.
And how does a “non-human” person feel?
It’s like being an entity bounded into a constelation of eternal things and objects unreachable to it. it’s like still being part of a chess board after having lost the game. It’s like being a bird submerged in the ocean struggling to fly towards the sunset. it’s like to be or not to be.
Because you, I, he, she, we, you and they, all, dwell in a world detached from the touchable, from the audible, from the smellable, from the tastable and from para-normality or from everything out of our conscious and palpable knowledge. We all live in a majorly visual world. Almost everything enters through the sight.
This is why people like me tend to be invisibilized, and this is why appearances are a fundamental fuel of the engine moving our current world. Advertising, art, filming, television, technology, physical beauty, sports, and everything, well almost everything, are based on the visual. And for a person detached from the visual like me everything becomes more complicated every single day. Yes, every single day, thanks to the momentously incredible advances on technology, industry and science, and on everything leading our world towards an exorbitantly uncertain future.
Uncertainty that for me is even more uncertain than life after life, if there is any.
So, what about that uncertainty?
Just as science makes the world advance, uncertainty is an engine that moves me to discover my own world or, at least, shape it till it adapts to my own daily reality.
Fortunately, thanks to providence, our world is not yet totally owned by a great giant eye ruling everything and on everybody. For me, the world is an immensity of things yet to discover, learn and achieve, despite all uncertain adversities.
But how possible?
At this point, I would like to introduce my senses, my friends. They, knowing they lack a key function, have learned to work properly with much self-sufficiency.
It’s here, at the moment of discovering the world, when my senses get on stage and become the great protagonists of this adventure of mine called life. They become part of this movie shot since I wake up in the morning and till my unconscious defeats my conscious each evening, when lying on my resting place.
However, I sincerely believe that the senses do not sleep while the conscious world is turned off, defeated by the unconscious, who teleports us to an unknown reality.
For these two fundamental reasons, I want to introduce you my senses, because they are utterly perfect; because they are the means by which we are capable of struggling against invisibilization and other social realities. And there is something you must know: there are more than just five.
Introduce them? How?
Maybe I should start with a small chronology of their activity since the moment my ear, perhaps sharp, perceives a bird tweeting from above a distant tree in the morning. I will let them, yes, introduce themselves. Yes… On their own.
HEARING: Wake up Bryner! I hear morning sounds! Hear, hear that sparrow singing at the highest. It must be up a tree beholding the raising sun, serenading some significant other sparrow. You should do so some time.
SMELL: What am I smelling? Yuk, Bryner, my lad, you should wake up and take a shower. This pillow is stinking. Or maybe you should learn to sleep mouth-shut at last.
TOUCH: Mmm… I feel all the body feeling good and comfy… It’d be nice staying a bit more on bed, Bryner. The softness and warmth of the mattress, the blankets and that pillow you always cuddle at night feel so warm and nice. Sleeping on a cloud must be like this.
HEARING: Enough! Silence, you two. Bryner just wants to hear the singing birds up on the branches of the Fig. Can you hear, Bryner, the city ambient sound? i know we are at some 4 miles away from the city downtown, but I can listen to the noise produced by vehicles, people and the yet reticent cold breathing of the wee hours: it creates a particular background sound in this suburbs, my dear fellow. Oh, I can hear the urban train’s whistle. Sometimes i can hear it from here at mornings or at afternoons. But it’s possible just when there’s not much noise at this neighborhood; only in such cases, those amplified sounds can be perceived. Sounds like cars’ horns, trucks’ brakes, distant airplanes, the breathing of a city… and obviously I also hear the closest sounds: birds, radios… loudspeaker vehicles selling eggs! At this time, at 6:30 in the morning! Unacceptable…!
SMELL: Yeah, and you’re like a loudspeaker, Hearing. You talk and talk and talk… Is it maybe because you’re actually the most active one? I don’t know, Bry, but it seems to me that there’s a really smelly ear around here. And there’s also a smell like rotten beans as well… maybe someone ate beans yesterday night, right? Aw, not you, Bry, maybe someone else. Haha
SIGHT: Mmm… Why don’t you all shut up and let me sleep? Anyway, morning all! Well… let’s see what’s going on here. Squinting… Well I perceive light, it’s definitely daylight. That grayish background out the curtains can only mean that the weather hasn’t improved yet. It’s a dusky morning. This room is too dark… I can only identify the clearer background drawn by the window outline upon the chamber’s pitch black darkness… And I don’t want to see anything else… Ah, yeah, day confirmed. Good night…
TOUCH: What a distracted lad, this Sight… Confirmed daylight twice in a row… haha. Ooh, what a warmy bed. And waht a cold day! These days have been really cold. Good decision made, Bryner, wearing a sweater to sleep. But now the body is feeling a bit uncomfy in this position. Turn around, Bryner. And don’t forget the pillow you hug. Honestly I think that it’s one of the most important warmth sources. yes, my lad, I know that it’d be better having another kind of warmth sources… maybe more alive. But the time will come. hahaha. Don’t worry.
HEARING: Leave him alone, Touch. Let him make a momentary decision. Hmmm… I hear, I hear people walking in the street; maybe they’re people running to take the bus. I can hear distant barking dogs, as well. I still hear some singing birds serenading the cold. I’m now hearing a passing by bus. Oh poor fellows, couldn’t catch the bus.. Well, there will come another in some 15 minutes. I hear the siren of some police car in the distance… oh this place never changes… i can also hear the pottery bells hanging at the next-door neighbors’ balcony; they are rowdy. It’s windy today… Roof blades rattling… I hear… hear… hear… he… zzz.
It comes the moment when, after this fleeting intervention of my senses, they left their conscious nature and turn into a most mystic and incomprehensive something. They turn into unconscious senses while I sleep.
And believe me, this actually can happen. They can even become semi-conscious senses. Why? because that’s the nature of us, human beings. We are like that, believe it or not. Maybe you haven’t noticed it, for you must have been submerged in an ocean of visual pleasures, overlooking other senses and your dreams.
I am not blaming you. In spite of my limited sight, I still can enjoy some 25 or 30% of it. And everything I’ve been able to see, using the insignificant ability of my beautiful honey-green eyes, has marveled me, enchanted me and made me fall in love. And this residual sight is essential, not only in my conscious world, but also in an unconscious state, inside my mind, while I sleep.
For instance, have you ever wondered how a blind person dreams? have you asked them? I’m sure you have, at least, wondered so… and I also know that you haven’t asked it because of fear or maybe because the opportunity hasn’t come yet. But, come on, get closer and address the blind. We don’t bite. Well, I at least do not… It honestly makes me very glad when a person seeks knowledge in this respect. That’s a way of breaking social stereotyping.
I guess what’s next may be of your interest.
How does a blind dream? How do I dream?
HEARING: zzz zz zzz – Hmmm, this is weird… distant and incomprehensible sounds. I hear voices. They are people whom Bryner may know or not. But I recognize a voice… i can remember who the owner of that voice is. But there are many… there are many young men and women. It’s a kind of place where young people get together. It seems so… And this girl is close. Sight, are you there?
SIGHT: Yes, Hearing, I’m here… Bryner is certainly at what seems a classroom. It reminds me of the old-fashioned classrooms of the high school where Bryner spent five years of his life, long time ago. There are high french windows through which much light trickles, but the image is blurred and dusky. Everything seems in grayscale. I only perceive the face and torso of a person. It’s a young woman whose voice,Hearing, you already identified. I actually don’t recognize her by what I see, for I only see that she’s a girl of joyful and white visage… or it might look whiter because sunlight is directly projected on it. I’m not really sure… but, it seems she’s close, really close. Too much, I’d say.
HEARING: Thank you, Sight. I heard Bryner shared a few words with this girl, only with her, despite there are many people around them… well it seems so. But I can’t clearly hear what happens now. Perhaps Touch can help us.
TOUCH: Hmmm… This is really interesting, my dear fellows. It seems that Bryner, in this dream, feels the warmth of this girl’s body very close to him. He’s embracing her. He feels the curves of her body under his arms. He feels her tongue humidly entwined to his. Also, with his hand he caresses her hair, which is straight and long. It’s a really good feeling… It’s nice, a really pleasant sensation. Bryner hasn’t felt like this in a long, long time. Actually he’s not really sure of having felt this before in his conscious life.
TASTE: Bryner perceives an indescribable flavor… It’s really complicated for me. It’s the flavor of a kiss. how does the flavor of a kiss feels like? Well it depends on much: whether both people brushed their teeth, whether they didn’t, whether love is really strong as to grant that kiss the flavor of a flower (a really subjective flavor), or whether the flavor and the circumstances are really unpleasant. In this particular case, let me tell you, the flavor is like… like much satisfaction. It’s the flavor of triumph. It’s not a 100% tangible flavor, but in this dream Bryner wants to describe it as very sweet. There must be love involved…
HEARING: Too much information! Thanks… I listen to this girl… She’s laughing. She’s also saying nice things to Bryner. You know, her voice is not that pleasant, but Bryner likes it anyway. he really enjoys her voice and mostly when she says things like these, like what she’s telling him. Oh, someone just tried to address them; it was a young man. And when he saw what was happening, he just shuffled off quickly.
SIGHT: Oh yeah, I guess I saw him. He was wearing a gray uniform and a black tie. he was a boy that Bryner remembers from other times. I guess that you, Hearing, may have identified him more accurately.
HEARING: I heard his voice, but it may be the voice of many people in particular. I only got that he was some Bryner’s high school senior year classmate. He was someone recorded in Bryner’s inconscious memory, just like this place, like this girl, like the kiss, like someone else’s body, adapted to the character of this girl, who’s present in Bryner’s most recent remembrances, by our magnificent boss, the mind, mighty inconscious of which we are part right now. So what happens now?
INTUITION: Sorry for interrupting, Just a clarification… Inconsciously in this dream Bryner is clear that he has never had this kind of treatment with her, at least in his conscious world. And yes, Bryner has really enjoyed what he’s experienced in this dream.
TOUCH: Thank you, Intuition… Well… the dream has changed. I feel we are… Em… Bryner is sitting on a desk and she’s beside him. They’re in the same place. I feel the wooden desk’s surface covered on a plastic layer under Bryner’s arms, as well as a cold metal bar stuck to the right side of his leg. I feel Bryner’s hand holding hers. Her hands are warm, soft and youth. She’s wearing some rings. Bryner caresses her hair. It’s so smooth and soft, long… and tied in a ponytail. Now they are leaning over the desks and hugging each other. Both are sitting on different desks. She caresses bryner’s head, and he feels her breathing next to his ear… ear… Hearing!
HEARING: She whispered something in his ear. OMG. What she says is that… – zzz zz zzzz
What did she tell me?
Ah, marvels of the human mind… marvels that many times we are not able to objectively explain. Sometimes we dream excruciatingly incomprehensive dreams. We are not even close to give them a coherent explanation. What I can say is that inside the wilderness and uncertainty of our dreams, we experience moments or situations actually lived in our daily conscious. Nonetheless, they may have not occurred in a coherent sequence of time, place and circumstance.
We will never know what this person, the girl, said in this dream, for once more the conscious defeated the inconscious; it interrupted this creative romantic creation of the mind. What a pity!
yes, I have to admit that I am an eternal lover… Previously I said that, by the limited use of these eyes, I’ve been able to see things that have astonished me, entranced me, amazed me, enchanted me and made me fall in love. And she is one of them. But it is not only what I’ve seen of her what has made me fall in love. It’s what I’ve lived with her and the shared moments I have recorded in my mind, in my inconscious. It is not a secret that many times our mind reproduces our most desperate desires in the shape of dreams. And this dream, I feel, was one of those.
So, finally, yes, we do, we dream the same way as everybody. The reason is that the mind does not incur on social or physical differences when its at its natural inconscious state. What varies is the way in which the mind reproduces dreams. I am aware that I can still see a bit, but dreams do not change for totally blind people. The only variation is the fact that the character Sight is not present in them. And the mind… ah the powerful mind. Nothing would be possible without it.
that is where I want to go next.
What about the inconscious and the mind?
For me, what dwells in my subconscious requires a bit more of deep explanation. I’ve given it the name of subconscious, but I’d also call it intelligence or sagacity… what for many people would be a sixth sense… at last, what is in my mind.
It’s not my intention being an expert in psychology. Actually I know nothing about it… I guess I’ve in fact mistaken the concepts of conscious, inconscious and subconscious in this text and have also mixed them up in a salad of psychic confusions.
However, what I want to rescue from all this verbiage is that there’s a sense separated from but complementary to all five physical senses. This sense is a loyal and crucial companion in the life of a blind person. And I am going to explain its nature in the same way. You’ve already seen it interacting before… in the dream.
Explain its nature? How come?
Letting this sense explain its own nature… It will have much to teach you… just as each day it lectures and capacitates the other senses: Sight, Hearing, Touch, Smell and Taste.
HEARING: Let’s go, Bryner, go. There are not many people around us, it seems. I can hear vehicles passing by in front of us; they come from your left and from your right. It’s really noisy. Cars are really noisy. Too much, I’d say. It’s kind of confusing…
INTUITION. Hereby I inform, my lord, that two possibilities exist at the moment, in light of the instantaneous information provided by our dear Hearing. I proceed with their desckription: 1) Crossing the street with the assistance given by some nearby pedestrian, or 2. crossing the road taking under consideration the auditory parameters eventually provided by our dear Hearing and, obviously, taking a decision in light of my always humble recommendations. Additionally, we would require the information eventually provided by our Sight.
HEARING: I insist… there are not many people around us because I don’t hear neither voices nor steps nor breathings nor conversations… No town criers or vendors. There are voices… but they are too distant.
INTUITION: Based on the auditory data delivered by our dear Hearing, my lord Bryner, I calculate that those voices are located at up to some fifty-five yards away from us, in a diagonal line to our left. Be understood, they are at the other side of the road. What other information do you have for us, Hearing?
HEARING: There are still passing-by cars. They come from left and right.
INTUITION: Insufficient and repetitive. Something else?
TOUCH: Some cars expell a really warm fume… Hmm… The hand grabbing the cane is sweaty.
SMELL: There’s a fried chicken sale nearby. Hmmm… but it also smells to “weed”.
SIGHT: Ooh… cars’ lights are really funny and nice, you know… They seem a pair of white glowing eyes gazing at us from darkness and moving in all directions. But some of them are so strong that hurt… Ah, look, there’s the street lighting pole in front. Watch out! And night’s falling now…
TASTE: This mint-flavored gum is flavorless now… I ask your permission to spit it out.
INTUITION: Silence, please! Pay attention! Hearing, when you hear no cars coming from any direction or if there is one coming at a considerable distance calculating space, time and speed, and if you judge it fair as to have motor abilities acting immediately, you can proceed with the movement order so that Finemotor and Grossmotor proceed. Sight, please check if cars’ lights coming from left and right are at a long distance or, preferably, if there are not any. Then, confirm any of these two situations. If these two orders are successfully fulfilled, we will be able to go across the street. Not before.
HEARING: Got it.
SIGHT: So do I.
HEARING: I hear the traffic diminish in front of us… In fact, there are no vehicles passing by now. The only thing I hear is something like a bus coming from the left side. It’s moving slowly. It stopped at some fifty-five yards away from here. However, the roar of its engine prevents me from listening well to our right side, from where I recognize neither vehicles nor people coming.
SIGHT: Indeed, the bus’s lights are at our left, big, round and blurry. It’s one of the new buses, I think, because it has a reddish light on its frontal upper side, just above the pair of white lights and the windshield. To me, those buses have always seemed miners of big glowing eyes and red lantern hats… well, that’s my idea of how miners look like. Anyway… I don’t see lights coming from our right. I only perceive the tubular lights of the supermarket at the frontal right corner, the public lighting pole in front and no coming lights from the frontal street.
INTUITION: Hmm… Based on that information, it’s now or never…
HEARING: Certainly. Please, cross the street now! The bus is still stopped; right side, apparently clean.
SIGHT: Stopped bus confirmed… Right side clean! Nothing there! Let’s go, now!
HEARING: Hurry up! The bus is moving now… but it hasn’t made it to second gear yet. Let’s go now!
INTUITION: Double order received… Time to move. Quickly!
FINEMOTOR: Right hand firm. lower tracking tool in functioning…
GROSSMOTOR: Feet moving now, quickly.
TOUCH: Attentive to the cane, attentive at the feet soles… cane perceiving the frontal canal’s texture, now the sidewalk edge’s, now the sidewalk’s. There’s a pole in front. Feet on the sidewalk edge now, and finally on the sidewalk. Everything is OK.
INTUITION: Alright. Perfect! Thanks for your kind collaboration, you all. Sight, I guess that mine workers must look like that. I remember having read something about their way of dressing, so I know that they use lanterns on their hats to light up their dusky way. And yes, Taste, the flavor of that gum is disgusting, but please wait until we get home to spit it out in the trash can. And finally, no, I guess dinner won’t be fried chicken tonight: the stomach has warned me of a great gastritis at the moment.
It is certainly complex. And it is certainly worth mentioning, my dear reader, that all of this happens in seconds. They are vital seconds for the autonomy and independence of an organism lacking the sense of sight, or that at least do not possess the totality of it.
It is evidently true that concentration, senses coordination and intuition are great complements for a blind to perform well in a very often unfriendly environment. And also it is worth admiting that the most important of senses may be the intuition, for without it, one simply would not be able to develop abilities that some, just some blinds are privileged to develop.
Though sorrowful it is, yes, currently there are people with sight disabilities who do not count with a serious concern for self-sufficiency. Therefore, their capacity to coordinate their senses is fragile, becoming vulnerable to the surroundings.
Nonetheless, if we add some sharp sense of direction to the above-mentioned skills, a rare sense that let us acceptably guide ourselves around a place (known or unknown), we would have a great number of abilities… Abilities that, as I said at the beginning of this piece of writing, are owned by almost non-human beings… or maybe extraterrestrials.
But no, no we are not extraterrestrials nor super-heros: we are people, struggling people who need to adapt to their surroundings or die. And if by any chance we fail to do it, it turns extremely difficult to attain a “normal” life in this visual world, visual and invisibilizing world.
So I correct: Undoubtedly, surviving in tough environments for someone whose senses lie limited in the small immensity of their existence may turn difficult. But as for divine grace, there are marvels of nature that allow, even in that smallness, a great number of skills and qualities to be developed. They may seem skills and qualities worth of unusually equal beings that allow them to survive. But they are not; they are just part of adaptation. We can adapt ourselves to the world… Would you please, world, adapt to us a little bit?
THANKS FOR READING