Most of us take life for granted. We know that one day we must die, but usually we picture that day as far in the future. The days stretch out in an endless vista, so we go about our petty tasks, hardly aware of our listless attitude toward life. The same lethargy characterizes the use of all our faculties and senses. Only the deaf appreciate hearing, only the blind realize the manifold blessings that lie in sight. I have often thought it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days at some time during his early adult life.
Darkness would make him more appreciative of sight; silence would teach him the joys of sound. When walking the woods, I, who cannot see, find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch. I feel the delicate symmetry of a leaf. I pass my hands lovingly about the smooth skin of a silver birch, or the rough, shaggy bark of a pine. In the spring I touch the branches of trees hopefully in search of a bud —the first sign of awakening Nature after her winter’s sleep. I feel the delightful, velvety texture of a flower, and discover its remarkable convolutions; and something of the miracle of Nature is revealed to me. Occasionally, if I am very fortunate, I place my hand gently on a small tree and feel the happy quiver of a bird in full song.
I am delighted to have the cool waters of a brook rush thought my open finger. To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug. To me the pageant of seasons is a thrilling and unending drama, the action of which streams through my finger tips. If I can get so much pleasure from mere touch, how much more beauty must be revealed by sight. Suppose you set your mind to work on the problem of how you would use your own eyes if you had only three more days to see.
If with the oncoming darkness of the third night you knew that the sun would never rise for you again, how would you spend those three precious intervening days? What would you most want to let your gaze rest upon? I, naturally, should want most to see the things which have become dear to me through my years of darkness. You, too, would want to let your eyes rest on the things that have become dear to you so that you could take the memory of them with you into the night that loomed before you.