Blinded By The Light

With eyes closed I stepped carefully forward, feeling the ground through my feet. The wan starlight did little to light the path. Eyes were virtually useless. With courage, I blindly followed the wheel tracks down towards the old farmhouse. Each wrong footstep revealed raised tufts of grass, and I gently altered my stance to avoid such trip hazards.

Who goes for a walk on the moonless night? I do, sometimes. I’m staying on a farm about 20 kilometres by road and 12 kilometres direct from the nearest town, which is a few hills over. There is no light from there at all.

Over many years, I have trained my eyes (and my feet) to follow the slight colour (or texture) variations between path and forest / wheel tracks in grass. Often it’s light vs dark, cream vs grey, grey vs black – yet always a small visible difference. I also use my feet to feel the way. I note the differences between a smoove or rough surface, or dirt path vs grass.

Part of it is seeing, and the rest is feeling the way forward slowly. When I cannot see so well, or there is a light from a distance building that reduces my vision, I close my eyes and trust the remaining senses that I have. If the true path is gravel then I can usually hear if I’m correctly on it as well.

I also use this unique technique at work sometimes. If I’m placing a washer and a spring washer and nut onto a bolt where I cannot see the end of the bolt, often I will close my eyes and imagine what it needs to look like as I screw the nut on. Nine times out of 10, my visualisation brings success.

I believe it comes down to trusting ALL of our senses and making the most (and best) use of them, and of our vision or imagination. After all, a writer imagines the full story, and a painter envisions the finished canvas.

Have you ever tried any of the above techniques? I bet you did at some point in your life. Perhaps you put a key in the door, found the door handle, walked to the bathroom, maybe sat on the toilet seat, all in the dark. Know anyone who has lived in the same house for 20 or more years? I bet they can walk all through their house in complete darkness, and not bump into anything.

I move around a lot for my work, so I stay in many new places. A first consideration for me is making a mental map of the room or venue, so I can get around it in darkness. I choose not to fully wake up by turning on a light in the small wee wee hours.

Past experiments with blind people showed that they could visualise and sense objects in a room, and navigate around them. Say what? Yes, it’s true. They cannot rely on their outer vision, so they have developed inner vision and other senses.

Stand still with the lights off at home. Is there a clock ticking? A fridge motor humming? A tap dripping? Somebody snoring? So many sounds to navigate by, aren’t there?

Go for a night walk with friends. Let them carry the torch, while you follow behind, about 3 metres distant. Look at the lit pathway, and memorise the rise and fall, the bumps, and whatever lies ahead. It’s easy enough, and you just need to adjust your gait. Raise your feet and step, don’t slide or shuffle your feet forward, lest you face-plant awkwardly.

The following is an excellent quote that I saw a few years ago. It speaks volumes to me:-





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