Hey there – I’m Julie and I’m blind!
Thanks for dropping by to find out about Blind Wisdom! Over the years of being blind I have been in so many unique situations that have taught me about life that I want to share them with you. But it’s not just all about me. It’s also about the inspiring blind people I have met along the way. People from the past, the present and the future. I hope to use this blog to showcase some of these amazing people and their insights and talents.
To find out how I got to the concept of Blind Wisdom, let me tell you a story:
On Saturday 20 April, 2013, I spent my second day with Chris Le Breton in his workshop “be a change agent”
In a group of 20 people from all around Dunedin, we joined together at Bathgate School to share the day with each other and for Chris to inspire us to become agents of change within our communityes.
As in the previous week, Chris had asked me if there was anything special I required on the grounds of being blind. “It would be great to show everyone how to meet and greet a blind person again so that participants will come up and say hi to me”
Claire was first up giving us a Maori prayer or karakia in which she talked about Ruru, the little NZ owl leading us into the light of day.
Then it was my turn. I showed the group how to say hello to a blind person and then asked them all to go around the room in a circle and greet me in the way they had been shown, as well as tell us one thing they wanted to get out of the day.
Chris then began to work through a series of exercises with us which included moving into pairs, doing group work and watching videos.
Towards the late end of the morning Chris moved us into the adjoining hall where we all stood in the middle as he placed 16 labels up around the hall. The labels represented sectors of society such as man, woman, Maori, Pacific, disability, religion/spirituality and so on. We were then all asked to go around the hall and pick the three top sectors we most aligned ourselves with. I chose disability, woman, and white man in that order. We were then asked to move to our number 1 sector to which I belonged so I stood in front of the disability sign. I was on my own, with no-one else beside me. All of a sudden I felt alone. And then I decided to reframe my feeling of aloneness as unique. That meant I was a voice. All be it a lone voice but I was a voice. Then I thought if I am a lone voice then that makes me a leader. Someone who stands in their light not their dark. Someone who is proud of who they are and what they stand for. I was beginning to feel like I had found my place in the world. I belonged here.
Then Chris identified a problem in his exercise. He had four people standing in their corners on their own. As a group exercise this was not going to work so he asked us to move towards our second choice. But it was too late for me. I was feeling powerful in my corner. I didn’t want to move. For the greater good I realised I had to so politely obliged when an arm offering to take me over to the women’s corner appeared before me. I was now amongst three other women, four in total with one of them being my very good coaching friend Claire. I knew Claire and loved her very much so I knew instantly that she didn’t belong in this “women’s” group as she very strongly identified with her Maori culture which of course she too had been asked to leave behind.
“I don’t think we really fit here” I whispered to Claire. I can’t remember how she responded but I didn’t care. In an act of complete knowing, I asked her to guide me towards the Maori corner.
I’m going to join you guys” I said to the other two in the Maori corner, so along with Claire and I the four of us began work on the questions we were asked. “What are the positive aspects of our culture?” “What are the negatives?” “How did systems support or not support our culture?” And I found the other three completing the answers with similar, if not the kind of response that I would have had as a disabled person. Prejudice, discrimination, lack of access to information and the list went on. Amongst the positives were this thing that constantly came up for natives, including Maori, “indigenous wisdom” and I found myself hearing it over again.
When we completed our questions we moved into the middle of the hall and began to share our answers. As I was standing with the others, giving our responses to the whole group I suddenly thought if Maori have indigenous wisdom then blind people have blind wisdom. Blind people have culture, practices, stories and beliefs that belong to them and shape who they are. From my time and experience in the blind community, I had very often seen an acceptance that leads them to a place of peace, happiness and inner knowing. A place of wisdom.
We then went into a paired session where we had to partner up with someone. As usual, I stayed still and the right person came towards me. This time it was Gabrielle. We were asked to shut our eyes and connect with the earth in our minds eye and then begin to focus on our work here on the planet. Of course my thoughts went immediately towards my latest insight of “blind wisdom.” As I began to speak aloud my stream of consciousness, Gabrielle diligently transcribed my words.
Here’s what she wrote down as I spoke:
To show the world not to be afraid of the dark,
Because it is here they will find their light,
That the power of one can triumph over the evil of many,
That the wisdom that exists within a blind collective can teach the world to be fearless,
That it can teach the world that doing things in a different way opens up our hearts to diversity
And It is in the discovery of doing things in a different way that we find our true source of power,
It’s where we find our creativity,
IT’s where we find our fearlessness,
It’s where we find our happiness,
It’s where we find our peace!
Hopefully this has given you a taste of what this blog will be about.
I look forward to bringing you more blind wisdom in the future.
AKA that blind woman