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personal engagement personal engagement

Blindness

We all experience blindness. Every single day, there are experiences, ideas, wisdom, people, and things happening all around us that we just don’t see. One of my favorite authors, Portuguese novelist José Saramago, wrote, “I think we are blind. Blind people who can see, but do not see.”

Heartspace calls us towards sight. It shows us what truly exists, rather than simply what we want to see or refuse to see. By intentionally fostering and strengthening the connections we have to ourselves and the world around us, we develop our vision. Behind appearances, within situations there’s a lot going on that we can glean. Some call this intuition, but it’s actually sight, seeing within the potential and harnessing the truth.
I was 19 when I left my home to move to New Orleans. It was the early ’90s, and although it had a reputation as the most murderous city in America, I knew I could survive there as a youth worker because I grew up in a ‘hood. When my car broke down halfway to driving to the city, I kept going because I was determined. Staying the first night there in the bus station, I immediately started calling every church and nonprofit I could find in the city. Volunteering that I was there on a vision quest from Omaha, I was told repeatedly to leave immediately and go home. “This city’s too dangerous for you, boy.” It was well-meaning, but didn’t deter me. It wasn’t until I’d been beat up twice and had my two bags stolen that I decided to leave.
I went in the first place with the intention of testing the world. I’d been raised to believe the universe would provide whatever I needed, and after getting kicked out of college for financial reasons, I wanted to call it out and off to New Orleans I went. I knew nobody there, and all I was carrying was a hundred bucks and some copies of my youth work resume.
After three weeks, getting jumped, being rustled from safe places by police, and facing so many rejections from people I thought of as potential allies, I asked my brother to buy my a bus ticket home. I went back. Instead of getting bitter or angry, I faced the reality that I couldn’t see the goodness in the situation beyond the new bond I felt to my brother. My own blindness kept me from seeing the wealth in those times.
Today I see more. All the pain and humiliation I could have suffered weren’t visited upon me in full force. I was spared arrest, offered solace at essential moments, and given a ticket home exactly when I needed it. Time has afforded me the vision to see the breadth and reality of that experience, and to allow the warmth surrounding me in those times to emerge. While I was there I made friends with a Methodist minister working near one of New Orleans’ public housing projects. Talking with him everyday kept me grounded and real. Before I left Omaha, I stocked my bags with collections of handy foods from the neighborhood food pantry, and ended up living off that for more than a week. I roamed the city freely, and in my own ignorance was able to see a lot of things tourists don’t; however, while I was at it I also took in the sites. Poorly playing my Boy Scout harmonica and wearing the gigantic felt hat my mom gave me the Christmas before as a joke, I sat on the corner of St. Peter and Dauphine Streets in the French Quarter whaling away until people threw change in my hat. Knowing the deep connections within myself has allowed me to see all this now for what it is worth. The entire experience was an experiment in Heartspace as I unconsciously relied on the seen and unseen connections around me to support what I was trying to connect to within me.
Blindness can bind our vision, but the absence of sight doesn’t have to be keep us from wisdom. There are many people who simply live unsighted, gladly gathering the beauty of life as it appears to them in whatever form. There are still others knowingly suspend their sight, choosing to live in blindness of the worlds around and within them. None of those is wrong or bad, they are just different. 
Understanding Heartspace can allow us to see the strength and power in the world and within ourselves right now. We can find value in all we’ve done, all we’ve been, all we’ve seen, and all we are, right now, in the past, and throughout our futures. Heartspace is there for you always in all ways, whether or not you’re conscious of it. Rest your eyes easily, and see as you want.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

By Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker, writer, trainer, researcher and advocate who researches, writes and shares about education, youth, and history.

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