Friday, August 17, 2007

Seeing Blind or Blind Seeing

Last night Cameron and I went to an impromptu movie since it was the final night it would be playing. It was an Iranian film called "The Willow Tree" about a man, Yusef, who has an operation and receives his sight after being blind for 38 years since the age of 8. It tells the story of how he reacts with his newfound sight and how he comes to learn that sight was not necessarily the answer to his prayers. It was a beautiful film with an intriguing and thought provoking story that had me contemplating sight and formulating my own theories and analysis.

He was a professor, married with a young child and lived in what he called "a little paradise." At the beginning he writes in his journal about how much he loves and misses his family while he is away getting the operation for his eyes. He talks about how he has not complained all these years about his suffering and affliction and that if only he could have his sight...

Well, sight does not necessarily come from the eyes, at least in a figurative sense. Once he had his sight, he just kind of wasted it and became resentful. He wanted to reclaim the years he professed he had lost because of his blindness. He had not lost any life. Inside, he felt entitled to happiness that he assumed he had been deprived. But he failed to see that he had all the things around him that brought happiness... he just failed to see. He lost his family because of it. He goes blind again by the end, at which point I think he finally gets it. He wasted the gift of sight that was granted to him, even for a short time. While in the hospital receiving the operation he met another man, who seemed rather odd but really understood the true meaning of sight. It isn't until much later in the story that Yusef is reminded of his friend who was ironically going blind. Morteza says in a letter that as he continues to lose his sight, the more he actually sees, which is just the opposite of Yusef. The more sight he actually gained, the less he saw.

I contemplated this idea for a while before going to bed last night and again this morning. I have often asked myself the would you rather question of - would I rather be born blind or go blind. I maintain I would rather go blind because then I would at least know what things look like. I would know people and places and have some sort of reference to what people are talking about. But does the gift of vision actually give us sight? I think the gift of sight is much more poignant than just having vision. We, who have our sight, take for granted the fact that we can see everything. Our eyes take in so much every single day, and I don't think we realize how detrimental it would be to us if we didn't have that. And yet, we don't see. And somehow, those who do not have the luxury of vision, see so much more than we do. Perhaps it is the increased sense of awareness to people and their surroundings that make them susceptible to "seeing."

I put myself in this man's shoes for a moment. Not seeing for 38 years... not knowing what your wife and child look like as well as discovering that you have to learn how to read and reacquaint yourself with your surroundings all the while dealing with the stimulation of taking in so many wonderful but strange sights can be overwhelming. In some ways it can be downright terrifying. But I imagine that after all those years, I would be joyful to see my wife and child... to see this place I called a "paradise" and to take in all the sights and sounds I had only imagined. Yet, he does not do this. Perhaps seeing was not what it was cracked up to be. Perhaps he was disappointed because rather than making his afflictions disappear, they became more apparent through receiving his sight. Had ne only understood the power of sight and its miraculous connection to gratitude, things might have turned out differently. Because after all, seeing is a choice.

3 comments:

Parker said...

wow, thats pretty cool. i often ask myself if i would rather be blind or deaf. i'd rather be blind because not only is my sight bad as it is but i also love music so much.

Anonymous said...

Nikki, it's Annette. I just read your blog from yesterday and wanted to share that I awake each morning going thru a gratitude list; things for which I'm grateful, like my senses - esp. sense of sight. This a.m., it was pretty important to me and I enjoyed reading this coincidental blog. Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

By the way, Annette from work...