Monday, December 15, 2008

Close Your Eyes...and See

Today, I surprised a couple of my teammates at NorthStar by driving them down to Atlantic Station to experience Dialog in the Dark, an exhibition that brings your senses to life.

For an hour, we walked (actually stumbled) from room to room in complete darkness, with a cane to help prevent us from injuring ourselves - or others, for that matter.

I don't want to give it all away, because I hope you will take my suggestion and go check it out. Suffice it to say that, in many ways, by having our eyesight taken away, our eyes were opened to the world around us. Each room held new surprises and discoveries. We were forced to use our senses of touch, smell, and hearing to navigate our way through ordinarily common scenes from everyday life (there was a taste area as well, but none of us had cash to purchase any beverages).

But, let me assure you that there was absolutely nothing common about not having eyesight. I learned that not only do I rely too heavily on what my eyes tell me, but also that I have a tendency to not use my other four senses enough.

As incredible as the experience was, the part that will leave the greatest impression on me will be the few minutes we spent with our guide at the end of the tour. Our guide, Derek, is blind. He lost his sight two years ago when a surgery to help improve his vision actually took it away from him. He honestly explained that he was depressed and even thought about ending his life.

But, one day he "came to his senses," and God spoke to him. Derek explained that he lost several friends (a term he uses loosely to describe them in hindsight), but that he began to understand that God had still given him gifts to share with others. And, he openly claims that his personal mission is to touch as many lives in a positive way as he possibly can through his disability.

You wouldn't know it from looking at him, but Derek holds four Master's Degrees, is a CPA, and is a University professor. He uses his "gift" of blindness to fill others' lives with hope and joy, and a new-found appreciation for the things they often take for granted.

And, as far as I am concerned - mission accomplished.

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