I am familiar with the play, Molly Sweeney, because I met and spent several unforgettable hours with the lady who portrayed her. Her name was Priscilla Lindsey, and although she never revealed her source, someone suggested to her that she spend time with me to gain some insight into the life of a well-adjusted, productive blind person.
We spent hours in my home, reading her part of the script, discussing Frank and Dr. Rice, and chatting about blindness in general and the attitudes of persons who believe that there is nothing worse than not being able to see. Priscilla was a delightful lady, who from the beginning accepted me for the person I was–a wife, a mother, a professional and someone involved in a number of activities. Her questions were insightful and our discussions were honest and revealing. I was invited to a rehearsal where I helped Priscilla with her stage presence. I also met Frank and Dr. Rice and explored their character interpretations as well as their attitudes toward the play’s subject matter. Like Priscilla, the gentlemen accepted me immediately and made me feel a part of the production. I was a guest at the opening performance and had my name listed in the program as an advisor to the cast. It was an experience I’ll always remember.
Having been blind since birth, I firmly believe that surgically restoring one’s vision later in life would have devastating consequences. Most people who have never seen with their eyes still possess vision through their other senses, including mind and heart. A person with restored vision would be bombarded with so much visual information so rapidly that the ability to comprehend would be overwhelming. It is possible that a person who has never seen would not be able to process much of what a person with sight actually sees. The actors and I agreed that if you’re going to be blind, being born blind has its advantages. We also agreed that losing one’s sight later in life can be more difficult because of the adjustment involved. For some, this adjustment can be long and difficult. Others never completely make the transition.
Surveys have shown that people fear blindness more than most other conditions or diseases–even the fatal ones. This is a visual world, and for many, it is a world which can be truly experienced and appreciated with the eye. If people would just take the time to explore their world through senses other than sight, they would discover that there are alternative ways of seeing. Perhaps they would be less afraid. Perhaps they would begin to understand and appreciate.