Sunday, I took my girls to a brunch put on by an association supporting a center for the blind in Cameroon. A friend of mine is involved in the group and told me it would be a way to get a tiny taste of what the blind experience.
You see, the brunch was in the pitch dark.
We were led into the room by our non-seeing guide, a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us. One by one, our guide showed us to our seats and told us what we would find on the table in front of us. As this is Geneva, the breakfast was typical local fare: bread, butter and jam for making tartines. There was also a jug of orange juice, cap firmly on.
We felt about for our plates, found our knives, napkins and cups then set about trying to make tartines and pour juice, relying on our others senses besides sight… and also relying on the goodness of our neighbors to help when we were at a loss.
I would like to tell you that I learned a great deal from the morning. That I now have a greater understanding of the blind. Or that my other senses really took over and the juice was sweeter and the butter creamier. That I could hear every little whoosh or snap in the room.
But that was not the case.
Instead, I had a good laugh. Elodie got jam all over her jacket and Emma stuck her fingers in her juice. I made a mess, a mass of butter on my plate and cup as well as my bread, and was glad my napkin was thick. We giggled and held each other’s hands as we passed the juice or jam. It was a moment of family and sharing and discovery and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Once we were outside in the sun, we smiled under the brightness. We talked about how fun it was to play in complete darkness for a few minutes.
Because we all knew it was only a few minutes. We all knew that the next morning, we’d be back to making tartines in our well-lit kitchen, everything in sight.
I cannot imagine that darkness every single day, every single moment of my life. I cannot imagine the challenges faced and the rewards reaped. The courage and strength needed. The trust, too. A few minutes did not teach me what it was like to be blind. A few minutes taught me instead that I knew nothing about being blind.
So what did I take away from the experience? Any lessons learned? I’m not sure. Except perhaps that the bread and butter of my own life is warm and sweet and plentiful. And that I often forget it.
This morning, I sliced fresh bread for the kids. We buttered it and slathered it with jam. It was easy.
And it was good.