Daniel Kish and Ben Underwood are both men, both Americans and both completely blind. Daniel was blind from the age of 13 months due to retinal cancer and Ben was blind from age two, for the same reason.
These two gents have something else in common. They both use echolocation to get around. The same echolocation that bats, who are blind as a…, use to get around.
Now I first imagined that these fellows walk around sending out high pitched “SQUEEEEEEEE SQUEEEEEEE” sounds. But, no. That was just Seymour when he got his finger stuck in the microwave door. Daniel and Ben make sharp clicks with their tongues.
A brain study published in May of this year shows that the echolocation sounds register in the region of the brain that processes visual stimulation. How awesome are we, hons?
Daniel’s parents raised him as a normal kid who happened to be blind. Consequently, he never had to crawl out from under the stigma of “handicapped” thinking. Fortunately, he’s founded an organization called World Access for the Blind.
Ben figured out echolocation all by himself!
Remember Helen Keller? She figured out how to do amazing things without being limited with blindness, deafness and muteness.
I say that these gents ignored the common view of blindness as being a handicap and went out to experience the world as much as you or I with both eyes working. Imagine if we could free ourselves from the shibboleth chains of restrictive thought when it comes to doing anything? Isn’t that what the mystics and folks like Qi Gong masters attempt? Daniel and Ben have done this because they have a situation that motivated them to insist.
You and I don’t insist. And, I say we are more limited than they are.
A soldier with a gun in our face is most definitely an enemy. You betcha. But a temporary enemy that will either kill us or move along. A worse enemy and lifelong enemy that keeps us imprisoned in our flesh suits is the enemy from within. It’s that little voice that constantly whispers “it is what it is,” “just throw your hands up and accept it..you’ll never change anything,” “that’s how it’s always been,” “you’re too….old/fat/ugly/stupid/….to try that!,” “now just shut up and suck it u…..(oops).” This languaging and attitude handicaps us far more than losing any of our senses.
We are far more than what we think we are. We can do far more amazing things than we believe we can. And we take that same powerful ability and use it for evil. Though we don’t call it evil. We usually just call it “Mom and Dad,” or “Tradition.” Isn’t our lack of faith disturbing?….
Daniel Kish and Ben Underwood’s experiences can teach us a whole lot more about coping and insisting on one’s life being a full experience. We just have to crawl out of our little boxes and apply this kind of thinking to more moments a day than we do now! Who knows how we could positively change the world if we shift our thinking just that little bit to how Daniel and Ben think?
None so blind and you and me, then, hons.