We stepped inside and all the light disappeared as a cloak of darkness fell over the room. I knew the dark was coming, but I have never been submerged in such complete pitch blackness before.
I was holding on to a girl in front of me who I met a few minutes prior, and Brandon was holding on behind me. As we were led to our table we were instructed to find our seats… except that I reached down and there was nothing in front of me. I heard Brandon call out from a few feet away that he had found a seat. “I don’t think this is right,” I said as I walked toward his voice. “I’m pretty sure this is a different table.”
Sure enough, our blind server came over and led us over to the correct table. Feeling around to find my chair I accidentally stuck my hand in something cool and mushy, which I realized was the quinoa in my dinner for the night. As I sat down, I awkwardly fumbled around to find my spoon while I tried to get a sense of where everything was in the place setting in front of me.
My first bite was potatoes, followed by tofu. Then I tasted something I recognized but couldn’t recall what it was. “They’re carrots,” said Brandon. “Wow, you’re right!” I said. I was stunned. How could something as simple as carrots, which I have eaten and loved my entire life, be so unfamiliar to me that I couldn’t place what the taste was without seeing them?
It was that moment when it hit me. How much do I really pay attention to my senses? Without seeing my food, I was able to notice the taste, shape, and texture of what I was eating… for the very first time.
As we ate, the blind staff started taking questions so the audience could grasp a bit more understanding of being blind. We learned about rock climbing and skiing while blind, pet peeve assumptions people make about being blind, and what technologies they like and don’t like as a blind user. “We may be different, but we also have a lot of similarities,” said Rick Hammond, the blind keynote facilitator.
I was reminded of one of the very first lessons I ever learned while traveling. People from another country or a foreign place may seem different on the outside. But if you take the time to get to know them, you’ll soon realize that they are not as different as they may appear. We are all humans on a journey along this path called life. The apparent differences between us are what makes us unique as people, but deep down we are all so much alike.
Just like it can be awkward or uncomfortable at times navigating new cultures and interacting with locals in a different country, we simply need to step outside of our comfort zone and ask questions instead of making assumptions.
The night concluded with live music played by Rosh and The Blind Cafe Orchestra. I closed my eyes for a few seconds as I began to feel the music, then quickly opened them to make sure no one was watching- only to see more darkness. I had almost forgotten no one could see me. I let myself relax and focused on the music without any other distractions, a way of listening to music that I had never experienced before.
As a single tear rolled down my cheek, I let go of my inhibitions. I realized that the little things are not just about paying attention to details and appreciating them. They are about getting to know yourself better. You need to look inwards in order to find the true source of your happiness.
Full disclosure, I do marketing work with The Blind Cafe. While this was my first time attending an event, I felt pretty confident I knew what I was getting myself into after reading basically every blog post and article written about the experience. I quickly learned that there are no words that can fully grasp the feelings and moments that make up the experience of The Blind Cafe. Everyone will have their own unique feelings and takeaways from the event, and you need to attend for yourself to discover them.
As we stood up from our seats getting ready to head home, I felt a sense of calmness and rejuvenation wash over me. It wasn’t until I got home from The Blind Cafe and was almost about to go to bed that I realized I hadn’t even turned my phone back on. All of the thoughts and feelings stirring around inside my head about what I had just experienced made me forget all about technology and what was happening on Twitter and Facebook.
The Blind Cafe is certainly more than a dinner in the dark. It’s a night you will never forget – or see.
Find out more about The Blind Cafe and dates/times for upcoming shows at http://www.theblindcafe.com