As I stepped into the shuttle to the airport hotel, I noticed two women who were blind sitting with their canes upright like staffs or scepters from another time, as if they were shepherds or queens in another life. They were gentle with each other and I thought of all the blind soothsayers in all the mythologies, stumbling through the outer world in order to see farther than any of us in the inner realm.
As I entered the lobby, the check-in line was full of blind people and I realized there was a convention gathering for those who couldn’t see. I wanted to sign up, for there is still so much out of view. I sat in the long glass corridor lined with restaurants and café tables and watched these brave souls make their way, tapping and sensing what was near and what was far.
They were greeting each other by feel and voice, no way to see if this one was tall or that one was short or if the young one had a scar on his cheek or the old one walked with a limp. They had to bypass all the surface geography that misleads us. Only voice and presence. They all tap, tap, tapped their way about like a grounded flock of birds pecking for seed. They stared and laughed and stepped about slowly, aware of every step. They were teachers who didn’t know they were teachers.
At breakfast, I sat among the flock of modern soothsayers, all reaching gingerly for butter and knives, all lifting cups of coffee and tea with a dedicated effort to bring what can’t be seen into our mouths. Outside, the leaves were turning orange, which only a few of us in that room could see. I gathered my questions and left to make my way, certain that there are inner wonders of the world, as great as the Grand Canyon, each offering a ledge within from which we can encounter truth.
Some will say I am romanticizing a difficult handicap. But the living edge between seeing and not seeing is never this one-sided or simple, never all gift or all difficulty. The more we quiet all that is around us, the more we can receive what waits within. And sometimes, we need to be stopped to welcome this consecration, stopped by some sort of loss—of sight, of purpose, of a dream, or a loved one. Then we’re opened to all we refuse to open. Then we find the treasure in what others have thrown away. For life is an alchemy in which all we try to change only changes us, the way a tree or shrub reaches its shoots toward the sky, only to dig its roots deeper into the ground.
A Question to Walk With: Sit in a public space and watch the people move about around you. Try to open your heart to each and to put yourself in each life as best you can, to see and feel from their perspective. What lesson do you come away with?
This is from my book in progress, Receiving Grace.
Information about his upcoming webinars, including Mark’s new webinar, Falling Down and Getting Up: Discovering Your Inner Resilience and Strength, that starts October 29th can be found at Live.MarkNepo.com.
Nov 9-12: Santa Sabina Center, San Rafael, CA, Four-Day Retreat, Surviving Storms: Finding the Strength to Meet Adversity. (Register Here)
Dec 8-10: St Andrews, Jackson, MI, Weekend Retreat, Falling Down and Getting Up, (Register Here)
Feb 5-10: Modern Elder Academy, Baja, Mexico, Falling Down and Getting Up: Discovering Your Own Resilience and Strength (web link)
Dec 8-14: Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Saying YES to Life: The One Life We’re Given (web link)
2024-2025 Yearlong Journey: 4 Weekends in Kalamazoo, MI, The One Life We’re Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart (web link)
If you’d like to order Mark’s new book, Falling Done and Getting Up: Discovering Your Inner Resilience and Strength, click here