Vision, Blindness, and New Years Resolutions

“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”
— Helen Keller

Since I was a child, I have always been told that I have 20/20 vision. Recently, however, I have found myself confronted with a vision problem. I can see which bus is coming up the street from blocks away. Give me a needle and I’ll string it faster than you can say…ehhh…sewing machine. But my challenge is not in seeing the things in front of me. My challenge is seeing beyond them, seeing what is possible, seeing passed the “buts,” “what ifs,” and “can’t” to who I am called to be.

I came across some photographers recently that changed my perspective on what it means to truly “see.”

What do each of these photographs have in common? I’ll give you a second to ponder and over analyze.


Give up? They were each taken by a blind photographer. There is an incredibly intriguing and obvious paradox in the phrase “blind photographer.” (Check out Sight Unseen, an exhibition of blind photographers at for more photographers and the stories behind them.) How can these beautiful pictures of the world come from someone who cannot see it?

Here is how the photographers explain their art:

“…above all I visualized. Isn’t it true that the realities of the inner life seem like marvels only because we live so   far    away from them? ” ~~Photographer Jacques Lusseyran

“…all photographers, in the end, imagine and remember their images much more than they actually perceive them… In other words, [like a blind photographer], all photographers, in the end, see things with their eyes closed.”~~Photographer Benjamin Mayer-Foulkes

“My images are fragile; I’ve never seen them, but I know they exist, and some of them have touched me deeply.”~~Photographer Evgen Bavcar

The secret behind the beauty of these images from the blind lies in how you define “see.” While these photographers’ sight might be impaired, their vision is probably stronger than most. Sight is the ability to see things as they are, the literal objects in front of you. Vision, on the other hand, is the ability to see things as they could be—-the perception of possibility. Sight is the ability to see teeth and snap a photo of someone smiling. Vision is the ability to capture a smile you can’t physically see because you can envision and inspire happiness. Sight is the ability to see a flower and freeze it in a frame. Vision is the ability to sense the possibility of beauty and take a chance at capturing it despite the fact that your eyesight only allows you to see darkness and vague shapes. “Blindness” is not a handicap for these photographers because their particular blindness only impacts their sight, not their vision.

In the words of blind photographer Evgen Bavcar, “Blindness isn’t just the blind person’s problem-it’s also the sighted person’s, if not more so.” Blindness impacting your sight causes modifications in your day to day tasks. Blindness impacting your vision, however, significantly handicaps your ability to live the life you were called to live. It blocks you from seeing your strengths, ideas, and opportunities to make a contribution with the clarity necessary to make your purpose come to pass.

As we faithfully write up our New Years resolutions for 2011, lets consider whether we are  making lists based on what we can see or what we can’t see. Are your resolutions based on your ability to see step by step how that goal will come to pass or are you dreaming big, taking risk, and basing your future on your ability to perceive possibilities? Is money holding you back from jumping out that plane or taking the trip you have always wanted? Are you just too busy to write that book? Not enough education for that new job? Is the past just too painful to rekindle that important relationship? Failed too many times on that diet to make it worth putting on the resolution list again? Do you see the barriers and blockages to the life you want or are you seeing the bounty in living it? It is only through our vision that we can see passed what is in front of us to hold on to what lies ahead, at any costs. In what areas of your life is your sight blinding your vision?

“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’”- George Bernard Shaw

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”- Shel Silverstein


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    […] Vision, Blindness, and New Years Resolutions « I DREAMED A WORLD – a celebration of blind photographers, and a model for making your future. […]

  2. 2

    Fantastic post! I love it when people learn more about photographers who are blind or vision impaired. I also love your injection of your own thoughts and feelings into this post. Happy new year!

  3. 4

    […] Vision, Blindness, and New Years Resolutions « I DREAMED A WORLD – a celebration of blind photographers, and a model for making your future. […]

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