Early one morning, I walked up an urban Queen Anne hill about 50 feet behind a blind man with a walking stick. I have seen this man many times. I remember his independence and courage. He regularly walks up this busy hill to his work, home, or office. This was the first day I ever walked behind him.
There was construction ahead and he walked under the scaffolding that ran the length of an apartment building. He kept walking but about 8 feet from the end of it, his cane hit the scaffolding. Then it hit the other side. He stopped, looking confused. His shoulders began to sag and he reached out to grab the scaffolding. He had no idea what it was.
There was another man walking between me and the blind man. So he did what any shy, busy, inconvenienced young man would do, he detoured into the street to get around the slow and distressed blind man. I was disappointed by his shyness.
As I approached, the blind man was starting to look panicked and turned around in a circle.
“It’s scaffolding.” I said.
He turned to me, his eyes opaque and sightless, listening intently to the sound of my voice.
I kept talking.
“You are under some scaffolding. There is construction here, but if you keep walking three more steps uphill you’ll be out from under it and on your way.”
“Oh my god, thank you!” He continued, “I thought maybe I was in the street.”
Could you imagine his panic and disorientation?
“No, not at all. You are still on the sidewalk and well on your way.”
“Thank you, again.” He said.
“No problem. Have a nice day.” I walked on. He seemed to think I had done enough, but I wondered if I had.
Everyone needs a guide.
It is impossible to see or know it all. It pains me to accept this. There are moments when it can feel like my deepest and darkest fears are manifesting, I am a failure. But maybe instead, I’m a few seconds from impossible-to-see lightness.
Only time and maybe-if-I’m-lucky guide will help.