Seeing Clearly In The Dark

With sunlight pouring down through the seasonal forest of Central Park, a woman walks in complete darkness.

Sitting on a park bench I first notice an older woman dressed in a grey t-shirt and white pants, moving through a nearby crosswalk. A young man, his hand gently on touching the back of the woman’s arm, accompanies her. Yellow cabs, buses, and others wait, I notice, with an unusual patience for New York City.

I then see the white cane.

The young man, making sure she gains her footing on the opposite sidewalk, turns and races back across the street. Taking a pair of white work gloves from his back pocket, he disappears into a nearby apartment building.

I’ve sat on this very same bench before – a time when venerable leaves still hide from the harshness of the New York winters. Today, now in early summer, I am seeing a different Central Park – one where the color green rules the day.

Tap, tap, tap.

From my bench I watch as the woman with the white cane is makes her way towards the park entrance.

Tap, tap, tap.

The cane, sketching a repeating pattern before her, is beautifully rote yet highly telegraphic. Her footsteps across the cobblestones, I notice, are both bold yet careful. I admire her confidence.

Pausing, I wonder what park she sees through her fingertips.

Tap, tap, tap.

Sitting on the bench, my mind is swimming in the simple visual differences a few months on the calendar can make. The noise of my vision, is drowning out any subtleties I might otherwise experience. I realize the woman and I see two different worlds of beauty.

Tap, tap, tap.

While I might see the world around me in optical generalizations – a large tree hanging over a path, a fountain spraying water towards the sky, or a statue overlooking an nearby entrance – I realize the woman with the white cane sees a world of much deeper in both subtitles and details. She knows a Central Park I am simply unable to imagine. All along her walk are – at least to me – are hidden markers of familiarity allowing her to ‘see’ where she is along her daily walk.

Tap, tap, tap.

I see the tip of her cane pausing, searching, and finding a particular spot where the cobblestone and asphalt road meet. She steps up. We both see this same patch of ground – only she sees it more. She knows the height of the curb, where it leads, and how the surface feels beneath her footing – all details completely lost on me since our shared experience.

Tap, tap, tap.

Turning, the woman begins enters a park bustling with people, bikes, and dogs – a visual postcard so to say.

I realize I now see Central Park in a brand new way – one I only because of a woman without my vision.

In life, the tiniest details are almost always there for us to see and appreciate. But sometimes, as it happened to me, it takes someone who sees the world through a different set of eyes to remind us to of what we are missing.

– 30 –












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