NON FICTION: The Blind Can Lead The Blind

A girl blindfolded

Photo: Oscar Keys

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.” —Robert Brault

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You may or may not have heard about that introduction quote. Which means it may or may not be a cliché by now. Writers are often told to avoid clichés because their meaning tends to be downplayed by their popularity, but sometimes there is a reason behind said popularity. And one of the reasons for anything being popular is because they’re true most of the time, being relevant even during boring times, like my occasional runs.

I like running because I can figuratively run away from my problems and sometimes even make the leap to the literal. It helps me meditate on my life’s troubles without having to deal with the brunt of the pain, being distracted by shortness of breath and all. These thoughts never seem to end: the perils of my future, my ill-spent days zooming by, never achieving greatness in my craft, fear of death—the usual.

I was hating everything. I even despised the fact that I had to run. Why couldn’t it be my rest day? Why did people have to exercise? It’s not as if I enjoyed working out anyway. But it’s either that or live with the misery that comes with being sedentary. So I droned on, physically putting one foot in front of the other and mentally juggling one problem after the next.

Time always seems to whiz by until I take on the uncomfortable. Then it just stops. At that it almost seemed like I was jogging in place until I overtook a blind guy on his daily walk, somehow avoiding foot traffic and falling off the curb with nothing but his cane.

I’ve seen this guy before, but today, he was a sight (forgive me) to behold, and never have I had such a quick perspective shift through such a small event. I was instantly grateful for my vision.

I could never navigate the world like that. Heck, I couldn’t even tell the difference between a ten- or five-cent coin, let alone read braille. And seeing how I’d covered blind futsal for a story before, I wonder why it took so long for me to come to this discovery. There I was, bitching to myself about how hard it was to exercise, when another guy was doing the exact same thing without his eyes.

Then it hit me—I was blessed to be able to see, but how much did I actually see? Have I been taking it for granted all this while? Suddenly, all my problems seemed to pale in comparison. The thought struck me so hard that I decided to just sit down and enjoy the game of football happening on the field, even though I barely cared about the sport.

I began to watch, really watch, how the amateurs seemed to flock in knots instead of standing in formation, how they used their instep for mostly everything, how one player liked to run with a bend at the wrist.

I extended my attention towards the runners on the track as well, watched how some people leaned back while they jogged, as if running down an incline; the tendency of a young man to swing his arms sideways as he walked, like he was swatting flies off his butt; how some runners thumped on the pavement, while the others seemed to drag their feet, burning away chunks of sole with every step.

And all this took place under the sunset, the last bits of crimson ready to make way for the night.

It’s been a while since I’d paid this much attention to anything, and it was a pretty peaceful few minutes, a welcome replenishment of the creative well, so to speak. In that moment, I remembered what it was like to observe and write with my senses, instead of merely churning out words for the sake of a word count.

It’s also been a long while since I’d actually sat down to do nothing, and it was bliss.

I left the bench with an extra spring in my step and, in my newfound calm, I didn’t notice the blind man as his cane struck my foot at an intersection.

“You first,” I said, stepping aside.

“Thank you,” he said.

“No, thank you,” I replied.


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