Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Blind Listening

I have participated in blind listening walks in the past. The last time I walked, about 8 years ago, I was pregnant with my first child. The walk took place in Chelsea, on the far west side of Manhattan. It was terrifying. It was really, really difficult to trust my partner and let one foot follow the other. I wanted to just stand still, or curl up in a ball for safety. I certainly didn't want to be blindfolded!

My Bennington walk, on the other hand, was an extraordinary treat! We started outside in the bitter cold and wind. At first I was reluctant, having left my coat inside, but my guide led me thoughtfully across different ground surfaces, around corners, in and out of light and shadow, all of which I could sense with my other, non-visual senses. The repeating pattern of gamelan music emanating from a ground floor classroom was an orienting motif that came in and out of my awareness as we walked. When we came inside the building, we sat for a few moments in the library. I felt so warm and comforted by the quite whispers and small sounds of that enclosed space.

At the close of the walk I felt calm, enlivened, and happy. It had been a 10 minute break - a short stretch of time where I was able to be led by someone, to be in someone else's care, relying on my senses (rather then my intellect) to know and experience the world. As the parent of an infant, I am constantly on the lookout - listening for cries, looking for signs of illness or danger, supervising in every way possible. So to be the 'baby' for a few minutes, just moving in the flow of sensory experience, was really pleasurable!