Last week I attended a great event in Waco, Texas hosted by the Waco Women’s Lions Club. It was called Dinner in the Dark. It was a fundraiser for Leader Dogs for the Blind, a nonprofit that helps those who are visually impaired and provides on-site training with the animals. My wife and I, along with my dad had the opportunity to eat an entire meal blindfolded as if we were blind. This was an amazing experience for me, as both of my grandparents were blind (one fully blind and the other legally blind).
We anxiously waited in line in the room outside the banquet hall as guides led each person to their tables. As my turn came, I slipped my blindfold on and there was darkness. My guide led me to the table. I could hear others around me struggling to get to their tables. My dad was in front of me and my wife behind me (I think!). As I got to the table, I was given a plastic apron to cover my clothes. It was many peoples first time eating in darkness. And I did just get that blazer I wore. It was better to be safe than sorry!
I sat down. Not knowing what to do I began to feel around the table. There was a salad to eat first. There were two types of dressing. Ranch and something else I would never use. My guide said the dressing choices were to the left of my plate. I reached for it, but apparently not left enough. My hand actually went into the dessert, which I would later eat before the main course. I corrected my mistake and finally found the dressing. I poured it on my salad (I think!), found my fork or my wife’s fork (we are still arguing about this one!) and I began to eat. I was almost done when I realized I could not quite get the remaining salad pieces with my fork. Apparently being blind made me unable to properly use a fork! I asked the table if anyone could see me and everyone said no. So I did what any guy would do in that situation. I lowered my head to the plate and ate like a dog. Now there happened to be a reporter at the table who did not say she could see me! That part ended up in the paper of course. Luckily she didn’t say it was me.
Next came the main course. As it was being brought to the table we were engaged in conversation. My wife informed me that I was talking really loud. I guess when you are blind for the first time you lose control of your voice. Or maybe it was just me. My plate was delivered and I was told where the food was on the plate. Steak was at 10 o’clock and so on. I actually don’t know what any of that means so I just felt around. I was able to navigate through my meal and I created a happy plate! No food left on my plate (I think!).
A bit later, we were able to take our blindfolds off and look around. The table we were at was much smaller than we thought. As was the room we were in. My place at the table was clean. I didn’t spill anything. I reminded everyone at the table this a few times (there should have been an award for that!). The feeling of seeing light, coming out of the darkness is one that I cannot fully explain. I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother (Nana) who went blind later in her life. She was blind for so many years. I wonder what it would have felt like for her to see light again? Probably a lot different than it did for me after just an hour.
This experience is one that I will never forget. It was so much fun, but also so very thought-provoking. What would my life be like if I were blind? How would I carry on? Would I have the same positive attitude that so many others have? The two speakers at the event had such a great attitude. They were not at all helpless. They were normal people who just happened to live their lives in darkness.
But you know what? I know a lot of people who can see just fine who live their lives in darkness. In some ways, those who are blind can see better than the rest of us. They see the things that really matter. Vision is something we all take for granted. Not just our eyesight vision, but our visions for the future.
What is your vision for your future? For the next year? Month? Day? How clear is your vision? Can you really see it? Do you really know what it is you want? Or are you in darkness? Are you blinded by the lights of fear, worry, doubt, indecision, negative thinking, and all that junk that other people put in your head?
I had dinner blindfolded. I was blind for an hour. It certainly was an experience. I can truly say how blessed I feel that I have the use of my eyes. But I promise you that I won’t take my vision for granted. I know what I want in my life. I know why I am here. It is so unbelievably clear to me. I can see my vision through any darkness. How about you?
Check out the article about the Dinner in the Dark in the Waco Tribune-Herald. I am even quoted!