As practical as I can imagine being sighted must be I sometimes think sight can be a very big obstacle.
I was discussing a new type of vegetable pasta with a friend of mine and told her how much I liked it, because it didn’t drop my blood sugar levels the way regular pasta does. Especially white pasta. It even tasted like regular pasta. Her reaction was quite funny. She started lecturing me about how stupid the advert was and that she wasn’t tempted to try it at all because of it. Besides, the pasta was different colours because they had different vegetables inside them.
What surprised me, was that just from seeing, the pasta had put her off. I also thought that pasta came in different colours, because I’ve seen that in Italy. But that’s beside the point. The conversation taught me just how quickly sighted people use their sight to judge and that’s sad.
Sight is a remote way of perceiving the world around you, meaning that there’s no need to get up close with objects or food to get a rough idea of what they are. But the key for me here is remote. You’re not up close and personal with what you see, well not always anyway. So if you see something new, you can’t really know what the object is like.
Food is a great example of this. I used to waitress in Dans Le Noir in London. A restaurant where diners eat and drink in the dark, not knowing what they are eating and drinking. One thing a lot of customers said when they came out after their meal and was told what they had consumed and saw pictures of it was: “I’m glad I didn’t know what it was, or saw it, because I probably wouldn’t have chosen it. But it tasted divine.” That tells me sight is a weak sense. But unfortunately a weak sense that has taken over most sighted people’s lives and dulled their other senses.
Sighted people also judge people faster and sometimes on unfair grounds. Blind people do this too, but usually based on more than just appearance.
One time for instance, I was going out to meet my class mates in St Helier, the capital of Jersey where I went to summer school to improve my English. I was sixteen and my host family was scared to let me go on the bus by myself, but they couldn’t exactly force me to stay in.
My bus came in a little earlier than the other girls busses. I decided to cross the road to the point where I was meeting them, but I missed the crossing. And before I knew it, I had three Jersey skater boys offering me a hand. We had been warned not to mix with, or date the locals. Apparently Jersey girls hated Scandinavians, claiming that they stole their boys, and there had been some ugly cat fights, so when a couple of the other girls stepped off their bus and saw me with the boys, they came running and out of breath asked me if they had done something to hurt me. In fact, the boys had been extremely polite and well behaved, but apparently they looked a little trashy. Perhaps if I’d been sighted, I’d not been so nice to them.
So here’s a challenge for my sighted readers. Next time you’re in a new place, close your eyes and experience the place for a few minutes without sight. Do you notice something you didn’t when your eyes were open? Do you smell, hear and feel things you didn’t realize were around you? This is also good to do in a familiar place, like your favourite café.
I always joke that if I get to see one day, I’ll be a ninja, because all my senses will be so well developed. Just imagine how much richer your world would be if all your senses played as big a role in your life as sight. I personally think it would be pretty awesome.