How My Single Day of Blindness Opened My Eyes For Ever

blind but not dumbHave 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:-)

blind and highly talented

Images courtesy of AfghanistanMatters and AndrewGould

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  1. Arvind this was a great story and obviously it helped you in some way. I have to admit to going a step further and actually blindfolding myself for one full day and feel what it was like being blind for a day, it gave me a totally different perspective on life, albeit for a short time.

    I totally relate to number 3 on the list.

    Thanks for a beautiful post.

    • Steven, maybe we should all try what you do and blindold ourselves for a day. It would certainly make appreciate much more what we already have.

      Maybe should also try closing down our sense of smell for a day and see what it’s like not to be able to smell the flowers!

  2. Anastasiya says

    Arvind it was a wonderful story and the best part is the experience that you’ve kept inside of you for all those years.
    I remember that when I was about 13 years old I was in a summer camp. One day our camp counselor said that we were going to learn something new that day. She said that we were going to learn what it feels to be limited in one way or another so that we could appreciate our health more. All kids were broken down in couples and all day long we had to be blind, deaf, not able to use our hands or legs. It was fun for us because it was a game when we could experience something absolutely new in life. The next day all of us felt how easy our life really was and how appreciative we had to be for what we were given in life.

    • Anastasiya, thanks for sharing your childhood story.

      Isn’t it wonderful how these simple learnings can have a life long impact!

      Our lives are really easy if we only we can get that awareness from a young age.

  3. Ideas With A Kick says

    Hey Arvind,

    I love it that you connect the lessons you write with your own life stories. Reminds me to do this more often on my blog.


    • Eduard, I find that sharing our personal experiences really can bring alive our storeis.

      We are all on an amazing journey and sharing our life stories and anecdotes makes it easier to get our message across:-)

      And it also shows we are human!

  4. That’s a fab idea that you and Steve had. Why not start a new project. ‘Be blind for a day for a real inSIGHT’

    Give people the opportunity to appreciate more of what they see.

    P.S. speaking of sight I just noticed that tiny smiley face you have at the bottom. Very cute! 😉


    • Thanks Amit

      Well, I might just do that – an experiment of being blind for a day.

      Yet, I do believe that we can learn to see so much more by just being fully present and also being aware of what is really going on around you e.g. with a friend who is with you.

      We all have this great power of intuition and if we can learn to tune into it more, then we can probably do even better with less eyesight.

  5. Lana-Dreamfollowers Blog says

    Hi Arvind, first time on your blog and loved it! Thanks for sharing the story with us. I was in a not so great mood today, but I am going to feel great for the rest of day because now I am overwhelmed with emotions of love and gratitude for my health and all the abundance that I have in life. Thank you!

    • Thanks Lana for dropping by! I am glad that reading this story has made you feel better.

      As always by appreciaiting what we have and being in gratitude is enough to put us in a different space. Now see if you can feel like this every day:-)

  6. I think the sightless world is a frightening place to be.
    Of all the senses I believe this is the most vital. The worst scenario for me is to live in a body with all your senses in tact but your mind is disabled by disease such as senility or Alzheimer’s.

    Many people are already blind to the good in their lives always looking to what others have. So many of us look for the darkness in humanity failing to see that we are blinded by our own faults.

    There’s no dearth of kindness in the world of ours; Only in our blindness we gather thorns for flowers.
    Gerald Massey

    • Andre, thanks for your comment.

      Indeed, losing sense of sight would be the hardest loss of the 5 senses.

      There is a lot of light, goodness and kindness all around us – we just have to be open to seeing it:-)

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