Tonight I gave up control and came home with a blindfold; I was completely satisfied. It all started with my hands gripping muscled shoulders as I was led into a dark room. I moved tentatively through a curtained archway, wondering what I was about to experience. I was excited and a bit nervous, but I could tell the man leading me was in control, I just needed to let go and trust him. Denied my vision, I felt deeply aware of the soft music and the voices of strangers surrounding me as I was led to my seat ready to taste, touch and explore. Excited? I was too, but for different reasons (get your mind out of the gutter). Tonight I ate at Vancouver’s new Dark Table restaurant which features blind dining. At the Dark Table, guests experience their entire meal, from being seated to completion, in utter darkness. The entire restaurant is pitch black but that doesn’t bother the servers. Diners are led to their table, seated and served by wait staff that are blind (or visually impaired).
The idea behind the restaurant is to experience you meal in a different way. My friends and I had a great time guessing at what we were eating (we opted the chief’s surprise meal rather than a menu item) and experiencing our meals without the aid of vision. We explored our environment with our noses (is the next table eating beef?), our ears and our fingers, “is that your fork or mine?”. (Fun, fun, fun. I will totally go back.
I have never been fully without my sight, or really any of my senses and I hope I never loose one. But tonight’s temporary blindness was amazing, and brought some interesting insights. I felt closer to my other senses (as expected) but there were other sensory changes I didn’t anticipate:
- My sense of time was off. We ate for exactly two hours, but it felt like the time passed much more quickly than that.
- I didn’t feel as talkative as I normally am at group gatherings, perhaps it was my need to use my hearing to sense the world around me…
- I still had a sense of vision. I couldn’t see, but I still looked at things, towards voices, down at my invisible hands as the buttered the bread, and around the dark room. I wasn’t imagining that I could see, I was just looking into the nothing.
All in all it was a very interseting experince.
In complete darkness I can still see things; spidery white images and the occasional spots of colour. I’m told that it could be retinal damage, or my mind filling in guesses for a lost sense. But a more interesting suggestion (if less believable to my doubting mind) is that in the dark, without the distraction of regular vision, I am seeing auras. What if the only thing that keeps most of us from sensing the supernatural, or the mystical is another sense? Imagine a world in which one sense overrides another. Perhaps if you can smell then you can not taste, or if you can feel then you can not smell, or if you can see visually, then you can not see spiritually. Do you imagine a world where people would choose to loose one sense to gain another? Or a world where the extra sense is only discovered after the accidental loss of another? Would everyone have the equal ability to use a new sense when another is lost, or do some people just not have that ‘other’ ability? Spend twenty minutes exploring the choices people might make in this new world, and what it would mean to their life experiences. Happy writing.