This I Believe

Michelle - Houston, Texas
Entered on December 16, 2008

I believe both beauty and wretchedness are more than meets the eye.

Last week, our humanities teacher assigned our class a project, in which we had to wear blindfolds and be “blind” for an entire school day. The purpose of the assignment was for us to find out what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes, as well as to capture beauty without using our optic senses. Everyone was extremely ecstatic, thinking that it would be a fun-filled experience, as well as a great excuse to slack off for an entire day.

Boy, were we proved wrong.

As the day started, the blindfolds took many by surprise. But, the day basically began just like any other, except…well, I couldn’t see anything. I was still walking down the same halls, passing by the same people, and moving along just like everyone else. No change. Although, I did find the blindfolds pretty useful… I fell asleep in AP US History without the teacher noticing, that was a plus.

Although, things began to change soon afterwards now that more people had their blindfolds on, and news began to spread of our assignment.

As I walked out of APUSH, the first thing I did was walk into a wall. I heard numerous giggles and rude comments, but in addition, many sympathetic gasps and “do-you-need-help”-s. Before I knew it, a stranger was helping me get to my feet and walking me to class. I had no idea who she was, even after she told me her name. Honestly, it was pretty odd and awkward. Normally, I’m not one to come out of my comfort zone. But also not being one to complain, I kept that inside and instead showed her how thankful I was. That was the first golden sign of beauty that I sensed that day. And so it began.

I’m quite the clumsy one, so I had many accidents that first half of the day. But I had many people by my side, most of them, were once again, strangers. Everytime I tripped, fell, walked into a wall, knocked over or dropped something; someone was there in a heartbeat – and only once or twice were they people I knew well. It slowly made me feel more secure, and granted myself more faith in my peers as I sensed deeper beauty & kindness in their hearts. By the end of third period, I felt comfortable in the arms of an outsider.

On the same day, I discovered that beauty can also be heard. I am a member of the Advanced Choir, and we fundraise our program by selling “birthday grams”, in which we sing “Happy Birthday” for the birthday purchased. I had to do so, blinded. But, as I sang, I could feel the positivity around me. It made the person feel special and happy, and I didn’t need eyes to see that.

On top of all this graciousness, I sensed hatred as well. Usually for me, hatred and evil is perceived through body language, facial expressions and the look in others’ eyes. But that day, I had none of that. Rather so, not being able to see actually intensified my other senses. At lunch, I had some misfortunes. This kid stuck his fingers in my eyes, another sprinkled water on me, and someone pretended to offer me help, and actually made me walk up a table. It began just as an uneasy feeling, but it soon turned into anger. I couldn’t believe there were people out there that used blind people to humor them.

In one hand I had humanity and compassion, and in the other, I had insensibility and wickedness. Overall, it was quite a bittersweet feeling. This experience has really changed my perception of reality. It has taught me that there is good out there, maybe not in everyone, but it exists. And also, that beauty & wretchedness is once again, more than meets the eye. There are layers beyond the outer skin, layers of beauty, goodness and character.