Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Try 'learning blind'

We encountered a blind man in a hurry today near the coffeeshop, his cane flickering to and fro.

Sonny was with us, tucked in a sarong but gazing upwards at Mum. His eyes seemed intent, staring unblinkingly. But, at six weeks, of course, hardly anything really registers: Not shapes, not colours. There is nothing wrong with his visual equipment. Everything simply has to be learned.

We're lucky that many of the trickiest things we'll ever have to master, like how to see or walk, we learn without consciously choosing to. We're too young to spit in the world's eye. As we begin to exert our will, a true appreciation of effort sets in: We start to say 'No', whether for lack of interest or fear of failure. Whether it's swimming or parasailing, our parents may at first be able to exert pressure. But - as the years harden us - all pressures save from ourselves will eventually be in vain.

The easy moral to be drawn from this meditation is that we can learn anything if we try hard enough: Even a man blinded by cruel fate can largely regain his independence. Yet, heartless as it is to say it, that is too easy an example. Even harder to learn would be something we really don't want, and don't need, to learn.

Why not do just that, then, instead of plumping for yet another hobby you've always found intriguing? Make it a game, amongst good friends: Let each be assigned an activity he finds completely valueless, but which he must master nonetheless. Effectively, we start out 'learning blind'.

The point of the exercise? With mastery - or the beginning of it - might come a changed perspective, unexpected appreciation and so a new-honed facet to our lives. Someone who has always scorned tribal music, say, might begin to appreciate its textures. We truly grow when our perspectives are broadened in this manner, when doors that we deliberately leave closed are unlocked.

Or, yes, when our eyes are opened to adventures always ignored.


Unknown said...

so you're currently into tribal music?

Cloudsters said...

Erm... Will try it if you do...?
[Alas, twas only an example, with apologies to tribal musicians out there. Could have said Kabuki, or Chinese fan dancing...]