Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blind Spots

I think we all have blind spots. There are areas of our life and personalities that are hard to look at, to admit to, to take responsibility for, to feel the whole pain of, or even to let in the full extent of gratitude that we feel. I believe these blind spots are linked to our triggers, to the buttons our loved ones are so good at pressing. We don’t want them coming to light. We have built motes around these areas with crocodiles and high, iron gates and guards surrounding electric fences. We have gone to great lengths to make sure that nobody can access our protected areas.

But like every elephant in the room, they are impossible to ignore.

I finished a book last night about a man who’s wife dies of cancer leaving behind a motherless 6 year old daughter. The man then gets wrongly accused of being a sex offender and loses his daughter to his inlaws as well as his job, his house and everything he owns. As with most books that I read, I am immersed in the story and I can’t stop reading it. I become it. But the situation has taken me so deep down into its reality that I spend my days trying to get over it. I try to force myself to feel grateful that I am not experiencing any of these kinds of trials right now. I even try to put the book down. I believe the story is meant to show how one human can survive the worst of tragedies and still prosper. I can’t help but think that such a situation would break me.

I lay awake for hours after finishing this book. Anger and fear spend the night bubbling under inside my body. Why did I need to read such a story? After spending my days unwinding my own life, I can’t figure out why it is worth my time to read this stuff. The tension in my body is palpable. But no matter what I do I cannot find release. The buzzing will not go away. Finally after hours of resistance I find a forbidden room. The hidden compartment. A key that unlocks a buried treasure. After a night of digging, I have accidentally hit the Blind Spot.

At first the Blind Spot is shocked to have been uncovered. It does not often see the light of day or receive any kind of consciousness from me. We have an unspoken agreement that we will leave each other alone. The Blind Spot squints in the light, as though it has been awoken from a long, dark, sleep. The Blind Spot is annoyed. The Blind Spot is scared. The Blind Spot isn’t used to being interrupted. Not like this. Not with my awareness present. Usually I experience an irritation I can’t explain. Or start obsessing about something someone says in ways that don’t match the gravity of the problem. Usually I have someone else I can blame for all of THEIR problems. But this book. Who can I blame? The one who wrote it? The one who leant it to me? I am reading online reviews on the title (which I’m not sure I should share with you!) to see how others reacted to the book.

I did not find a way around it. I spent the night coiled up with that feeling you get after a major confrontation. I still don’t know exactly what I was confronting because it was a blind spot after all. But that doesn’t mean the car ain’t still driving along beside me, right next to me, affecting where I can go next. If I could see it, I would yell ‘get out of my blind spot you idiot!’

I arrived late at work after a sleepless night to wander the hard hallways that I have become accustomed to navigating each morning. I hear a voice. The beautiful sound of someone singing. The voice is echoing off of the ceramic tiles. She doesn’t stop when we step on the elevator together. The elevator is full. She has no headphones on. She is just singing. Loud enough for everyone to hear. And she sounds lovely. She doesn’t make eye contact and she doesn’t stop singing.

Tears start to form in my eyes. Not a very well-timed release but a release nonetheless. The elevator keeps stopping at different floors but she does not get off. She keeps singing. I feel my body let go. It isn’t convenient. I have 4 more floors to go.

I’d love to tell you the nature of this blind spot I met last night. Or what it was that I finally let go of. I can’t quite say. Fear, perhaps. That would make sense. Then I wonder if it matters whether I put words to it or not. I think about Chinese medicine and how healing by this practise does not require the label that western medicine covets so highly. Similarly with homeopathic medicine. The symptoms are far more important than the ‘disease’. The treatment focuses on the state itself, not the analysis of the state. I’m not dissing either side, just noting their differences.

But what seems more important to me now is not why the fear manifested, but how it was healed. From a song. The voice of another human being carrying on her way, not minding what others thought of her. I wanted to find her – to tell her thank you. But I imagine it would seem crazy. Much more crazy than singing to yourself in an elevator full of people, right?

Healing in its very nature requires faith. So it seems strange that it would matter what we call it. Naming allows us to tame a thing, control it, make it do our bidding. When all we really need to get to is the healing, who cares how we get there? Yet is blind faith enough to heal?



In science there are things called double blind experiments that ensure neither the researcher nor the subject knows which treatment is the control (blank) and which one is being tested for its effects. In other words, there is a belief that the outcome will change if either side knows what to expect or what to hope for. In fact the blindness is essential to the proper functioning of the trials.



It occurs to me now that the day I built those protections, I obviously had a very good reason to do so. I shall not go digging about where the ground is not ready for new seeds. I shall let her sleep, whatever she is, until she is ready to wake up on its own terms.

And one day maybe, maybe in the presence of a beautiful song, in the cold elevator of a government building the Blind Spot will gain faith and reveal itself again. Or is it I who needs more faith? Faith to believe that whatever comes my way, I would handle in the best way I could? And I would get the support and help I needed from whatever people and powers that were willing. That I am not alone in this.

Blind maybe. But not alone.

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