Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be blind?
Many years ago, as a schoolboy I took part in some fundraising for the Royal Blind Society.
It was on a Saturday in a busy town shopping centre and involved selling some red flags in return for coins and notes in a collection tin.
Looking back, a school friend and I had taken part in this fundraising day, more for a bet and a fun day out than any great idealistic or compassionate grounds. It seemed like it would be a good story to recount one day, which is exactly what I am doing right now:-)
My friend and I had wondered what it would be like to just go around the town centre rattling our collection tins.
However we got far more than we had bargained for or anticipated.
Firstly, we found people were incredibly kind and generous with their money and words of encouragement. Some commented on how great it was that we were doing this. Others smiled as they put their hard earned cash through the slots in the collection tin.
The best were the little children who took great joy in giving us a penny or two.
Then suddenly the penny literally dropped for me. Some of these shoppers actually believed that I was blind too!
It seemed that some of them were simply gazing at me with glazed eyes whilst they took a flag and others were smiling angelically, almost as if they felt or knew that their smile was not going to be seen!
A very few did not even seem to notice that I was there, while others looked at me with great compassion and tenderness.
Even at that young age, I could feel the energy of a lot of this people was shifting when they engaged in this brief act of giving and compassion.
It was probably my first ever experience of compassion and true giving, and realising what a profound impact it can make on both the giver and the receiver.
Later that day, we met up with some of the other collectors and I was lucky enough to meet one who was genuinely blind.
We had a long chat and he laughed when I explained how most people thought I was blind too. He even jokingly suggested I carried on pretending so I could collect more!
What was fascinating to me was how someone seemingly handicapped by lack of eyesight was yet so confident in moving around and behaving “normally” – he certainly did not expect us to feel sorry for him or to grant him any special favours.
Yet I did feel sorry for him as from my perspective, he was not able to see the world in its full glory and I felt it would be such a struggle to get around. But the lesson I learnt that day was quite profound:-
“It is not what you don’t have that limits your life, it is what you do with what you have that creates your life” – Arvind Devalia
Roll on a few years from that flag-selling day – I once stopped to help a blind pedestrian near Regents Park in London. He was on his way to Harley Street, world famous for its medical excellence.
This gentleman was extremely well dressed and carried a large black briefcase. As I helped him across the road, we chatted and it turned out that he was a leading bone consultant!
He had learnt to use the power of his touch, intuition and medical training to help people without having the need to see them through his eyes.
The key learning is that having all our senses and faculties does not make us superior to anyone who does not. There is this well known saying – “In the valley of the blind, the one eyed man is king”.
I guess this relates to how having some information about something gives you an advantage over those who are in the “dark”.
However, is this really true?
A while ago I read a fascinating short story by H G Wells which seems to repute this belief. This is quite a famous story and is called – The Country of the Blind.
Looking back, that fateful day of flag selling for the blind left quite a mark on me. It taught me what it is like to do something for others, even though the day had started of as a lark. It was also my first ever foray into fund-raisingJ
I also learnt how good it can be to connect with other people when they are being their highest self, noble, generous and giving.
My single day of blindness all those years ago, certainly opened my eyes forever.
So here are my key lessons for you to apply in your own life:-
1. Serve others
Look for opportunities to serve others even if it is simply helping a blind person cross the road.
The possibilities of service and showing kindness are limitless – you just have to be open to them and recognise any opportunities to serve.
Keep your eyes literally peeled!
2. Help others serve
Do take part in fund-raising events as not only will you be raising funds and awareness about your chosen cause, but you will learn just how compassionate and generous people can be.
People just want to be given a chance to show their nobility and higher self.
3. Smell the flowers
Do take time to truly appreciate the world around you. Literally smell the flowers.
Regardless of whatever is happening for you in your life currently, and whatever challenges you might be facing, have awareness of the beauty around you and in the people in your life. This will make each day even more enjoyable.
And of course, do make lots of time in your life for some fun and joy. You deserve it.
I look forward to hearing how you get on:-)
Images courtesy of AfghanistanMatters and AndrewGould