Today is the birthday of Helen Keller, one of the greatest American heroes. I am always amazed by how much she accomplished during her life. She never let her blindness or deafness get in the way of her goals. Chief among those was being a voice for those who were less fortunate than she was, but her vision was not confined to those who were blind or deaf. She wanted to help all who were vulnerable, a legacy that Helen Keller International continues today in her name.
I’ve often wondered how Helen experienced New York City and I was given that opportunity at the immersive interactive show called Dialog in the Dark. All participants are given a white cane and walk in total darkness through several New York settings. Our group’s guide was himself blind. We wandered through “Central Park” and heard more clearly the songs of birds and the ripple of water. In a grocery store, our senses of smell and touch were heightened as we tried to find fruits and vegetables. It was fun and stimulating.
Rounding the corner from the store to the subway, however, I somehow got separated from my group. I could hear them, but couldn’t reach them. I became totally disoriented and kept running into a wall. I called out for my guide and then just started crying “Help.” After what was probably a minute at most, another guide found me and helped me get back.
The rest of the tour was enjoyable, but I was very relieved when the lights came back on. This experience really demonstrated Helen’s bravery. Despite her fears and loneliness in a literal and (sometimes) metaphoric darkness, she found her way out.
I thought about this when I was re-reading some of Helen’s eloquent quotes. One that really struck me was: “Never bend your head. Hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.” There are lots of ways to apply this to your own life, and I wish I’d thought of one of them when I was lost in that dark corridor.
HKI is posting other quotes on our Facebook page today to celebrate Helen’s birthday. Please share these or one of your own favorites, and take a moment to think about the unique perspective of their author.
Happy Birthday, Helen!