Through Eyes of Darkness - A Photo Journal from a Blind Woman
Photos Taken By Toby, a Woman without Sight
Do you look at people who don't have everything you have and wonder how they are able to cope from day to day? I have noticed that those who are blessed sometimes tend to look down upon those who do not appear to be.The rich pity the poor. The skinny pity the overweight. The beautiful pity the ugly. The "haves" wonder how the "have-nots" face each day with happiness, joy, and hope.
There are some who take their blessings and help others by blessing them with gifts and trying to show them the "other side of life". However, it is only for a moment. A makeover only lasts for so long before one must wash his or her hair again and remove the make up. The food provided to a family only lasts for so many meals. The gifts will one day break or be lost.
What about those things you can't help? How do you help people whose "have not" is something that can't be replaced? How do you encourage someone who will never hear, never see, never speak? How do you encourage someone who can't eat, can't touch, can't feel? What do you do when "things" can't replace what they are missing in their lives? And do they really miss it, or do you just believe they do because you can't imagine life without it?
I met Toby in high school. She is blind; yet her "sight" has often helped me to explore the world in new ways. I am notorious for walking into her apartment and asking why the lights are off (we won't touch this one!) or asking her a question like "What color plate do you want?" (she is always kind enough to provide a response). We laugh about the simplicity of the questions. She has taught me a lot about my need to be more descriptive when explaining things.
As Toby's friend, I love to watch her do things she hasn't been able to experience. While she had married, lived on her own, and held jobs; there were many things she hadn't experienced, such as playing Wii, going bowling, going to the movies, etc. I became that friend that wasn't afraid to go outside and blow bubbles with her, take her to the bowling alley on a Friday night, or give her a camera in the middle of a family day at a local park. I wanted her to share in the every day joys those of us with sight are able to experience. The day with the camera changed my understanding of feeling bad for those who aren't where we are in life and don't have the same blessings.
Family Day At The Park
Last year, I took Toby to the family day at a local park. I gave her a camera to capture the beauty around her. I told her I was interested in seeing the world through her eyes. To see what she considered beautiful without being able to see the depth of beauty I was able to experience.
As we wandered the park and participated in various events, you wouldn't have realized that Toby didn't have her site. She held the camera up, took pictures here and there, and laughed along with my daughter and me as we heard the sounds of children's laughter. We walked through flower gardens, viewed classic cars, took part in a ball bounce race, flew kites, and wandered the sands of the beach for a time. We smelled flowered, heard the waves crashing on the beach, touched the grass, and tasted the wonderful food. It was an overcast day filled with sunshine and beauty because of the people around us and the experiences we were having.
When the day was over, we uploaded the pictures and took a look at what we each noticed to be beautiful that day. What Toby captured amazed me in its raw beauty. Untouched and here for you to see along the side of this text are some of the pictures she took - what she captured as being beautiful. Some of the photos she captured were similar to things I captured; however, she also saw beauty that many of us look past in our daily lives. I was impressed by the ones we took that were similar, such as the tree overlooking the ocean and the fisherman. However, what amazed me most were the pictures she took of the beauty I missed - such as a lamppost along a board walk, the skyline, and the waves crashing on the beach. She took in beauty that I didn't have time to see because I was amazed by bigger and better things.
In this experience, I learned a valuable lesson about judging others, which in turn is what we do when we pity them or feel bad they are unable to experience what we can do or what we have. I learned that what I see as lack someone else sees as fullness. What I see as a hindrance, someone else can view as a motivator. What I see as waste, someone else views as necessary.
In my friendship with Toby, I have often learned to look beyond the outer layer and into a person's being before I make a judgment. I have learned to view the world with description and observation beyond what my eyes can see. I have come to understand that a true acceptance of beauty does not come what one possesses or looks like or has on the outside, but from the love that is within, the depth with which they feel, and the passion with which they approach the world. I challenge you today to stop seeing others with your eyes but to experience them with your heart. Doing so may help you find that the poor are the richest folks on the planet, the overweight are the most confident and creative, and the ugly are more beautiful than we understood.