“Good bye,” said the fox to the Little Prince, “And here is my secret.”
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
(The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
It’s rightly so. Take it from Water Lily (Nymphaea), which is perhaps the last painting of French impressionist, Claude Monet (1840-1926) before he became totally blind. The scenery draws deeper meaning from the accompanying verse from Auguries of Innocence, William Blake’s late prophetic poem – fearless and free.
How perfect is the combination of these two masterpieces - made by artists who “saw” the world differently from that of ours – we who are unaffected of sight or any sense, we who are not infirmed in life. Nymphaea represents our natural world, undisturbed and unspoiled by human hands, while Auguries of Innocence speaks of the purity of mankind, reverent and subservient to a Higher Principle, and sensitive to the world.
To see the World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven a Wild Flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
Edgar Degas also suffered from very poor eyesight towards the end of his life. Surprising it is in this twilight zone that artists made their masterpieces.
Here are other famous people with sight problems
• Andrea Bocelli - opera singer
• Loiuse Braille - inventor of braille
• Ray Charles - American singer and composer
• Helen Keller - American author, philanthropist
• John Milton - English poet
• Horatio Nelson - British admiral
• Rembrandt – Dutch painter
• Stevie Wonder – American singer
• St. Paul - Apostle
• Homer - Greek poet
• Samson - Biblical hero
Here are biblical, religious and fiction characters, too, that are popular to many of us.
• Tiresias - mythological, Greek seer
• Odin - Norse god
• Horus - Egyptian god
• Oedipus - mythological Greek King
• Cupid/Eros - Greek/Roman god of love
We have local Blind Musicians in our midst performing in malls, fiestas, and in various occasion. A live band of five to as many as twenty plays instruments and sings as other famous bands do. In spite of being blind these musicians find joy in entertaining people. They pursue a happy life and live normal like other people do.
Quite often we hear people invariably asking this question on who is fit to live? Who of us best deserve life? How do we earn our worthiness to live? It’s a casual question, yet it is perhaps the most difficult to answer, because the art of living is the most difficult of all the arts. Perhaps we can draw some thoughts from John Milton’s works, the most famous is Paradise Lost.
“God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.
His state is kingly.
Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
- John Milton, When I Consider How My Light Is Spent, 1652
Many people have various versions of how live is well lived with nature. In Living with Nature in Our Times, a book I wrote in 2006, I tried to make a capsule that tries to capture my own definition, greatly influenced by my associates in the field and academe. To wit:
“Nature shares her bounty in many ways:
He who works or he who prays,
Who patiently waits or gleefully plays;
He is worthy of the same grace."
- A V Rotor, Living with Nature in Our Times
Priorities and Choices in Life
Helen Keller, deaf-blind since infancy became a role model for millions of people. She wrote a moving essay that challenges us who have the power of vision on how we would value “Three Days to See” if we were blind like Helen Keller blind since infancy. (The Story of My Life)
Try this exercise. If you were given Three Days To See just as Helen Keller told in her essay, how would you prioritize these? (Please indicate the day after each item; or it is not applicable.) Please refer to the answers below
1. Lives of people everyday
2. Theatre – concert, performing art
3. Transformation of night to day
4. Views from top of a high building
5. Loved ones and friends
6. Nature - landscape and garden
7. Museum of arts and natural history
8. Historical records of man & society
9. Things at home, favorite books, etc
10. Comedy, the lighter side of life.
After checking your work with the answers guide below, compare it with the priorities of Helen Keller.
1st Day - Loved ones, Favorite Things, Nature
2nd Day - Natural History, History, Humanities,
3rd Day - The Business of life. (NOTE: The lighter side of life closes the episode.)
Three Days to See challenges us to look into our priorities and choices in Life
• City or countryside life
• Aesthetics or materialism
• Permanence and transience
• Love and Friendship
• Spirituality and faith
• Computer graphics or fine arts
• Perception or sensitivity
• Affection or companionship
• Vice or hobby
• Knowledge or Wiisdom
Lives of people everyday - 3rd day
1. Theatre – concert, performing art –end of 2nd day
2. Transformation of night to day –opening of 2nd day
3. Views from top of a high building – 3rd day
4. Loved ones and friends – 1st day, immediately.
5. Nature - landscape & garden – 1st day pm to sunset
6. Museum of arts and natural history – 2nd day
7. Historical records of man & society – 2nd day
8. Things at home, favorite books, etc – 1st day
9. Comedy stage play - End of 3rd day
From this exercise we can better appreciate Helen Keller’s philosophy of life.
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I am, therein to be content.”
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen and even touched. They must be felt within the heart.” ~