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What to look at with only three days to see

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Yesterday, I reread the article "Three Days to See," by Helen Keller.

In it, Keller imagines having the gift of sight for three days of her life. Every time I read her work or share her story with others, I am acutely aware of a renewed sense of wonder — a rediscovery of the daily blessings I so easily take for granted.

In "Three Days to See", Keller implores each of us to "use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Make the most of every sense."

Sage advice from a woman who could not see nor hear. What would you look at if you only had three days of sight?

Recently, snow settled over the city and, in the morning covered everything. Overnight, the city was transformed into a dazzling world of white.

Such beauty cannot fail to impress us, but what about lesser sights? How often do we take for granted the faces of those we love and see daily? Keller says that on her first day of sight, she would "want to see the people whose kindness and gentleness and companionship have made… life worth living."

On her second day of sight, Keller hopes to see all the magnificent achievements of man that most of us, as sighted people, never fully appreciate. She speaks of visiting libraries, museums and art galleries, and of watching theatre and dance performances.

In Winnipeg, we are blessed with so much culture and yet how many of us take advantage of these treasures?

Keller asks, "How many of you, I wonder, when you gaze at a play, a movie, or any spectacle, realize and give thanks for the miracle of sight which enables you to enjoy its colour, grace and movement?"  

On her third day of sight, Keller wishes to visit a city. She speaks of the amazing structures and the parks but also of the slums and industrial sights. Keller is eager to see it all — the magnificent and the pathetic — everything that makes up a city. She feels that we are blind because everything has become familiar to us. She however, pictures the city as a "new and startling vision of the power and ingenuity of man."

After re-reading Helen Keller’s essay, I realized that we can choose to shut our eyes and ignore the beauty that surrounds us, or open our eyes and relish in the daily magic of ordinary life.

So thank you once again, Helen Keller for re-awakening me to the wonders of our world.

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