07 November 2010

Revealing through raindrops

Photo by Tarsem Saini, via Desi Comments

While reading about Oliver Sachs' new book The Mind's Eye and perusing some of his research / articles, I came across the story of John Hull, who recorded his experiences and reflections as he lost his vision and then while living as a newly blinded person.  I read an excerpt from this collection entitled Touching the Rock, and his description of rain and what that means is incredibly poignant ... never thought of it in that way.  Perhaps my own senses, even as a completely able-bodied person, need honing to hear nature's concealed symphony.

One particular passage :

I hear the rain pattering on the roof above me, dripping down the walls to my left and right, splashing from the drainpipe at ground level on my left, while further over to the left there is a lighter patch as the rain falls almost inaudibly upon a large leafy shrub. On the right, it is drumming, with a deeper, steadier sound upon the lawn. I can even make out the contours of the lawn, which rises to the right in a little hill. The sound of the rain is different and shapes out the curvature for me. ... Over the whole thing, like light falling upon a landscape is the gentle background patter gathered up into one continuous murmur of rain.

I think that this experience of opening the door on a rainy garden must be similar to that which a sighted person feels when opening the curtains and seeing the world outside. Usually, when I open my front door, there are various broken sounds spread across a nothingness. I know that when I take the next step I will encounter the path, and that to the right my shoe will meet the lawn. ...  I know all these things are there but I know them from memory. ... The rain presents the fullness of an entire situation all at once, not merely remembered, not in anticipation, but actually and now...

If only rain could fall inside a room, it would help me to understand where things are in that room, to give a sense of being in the room, instead of just sitting on a chair.

This is an experience of great beauty. I feel as if the world, which is veiled until I touch it, has suddenly disclosed itself to me. I feel ! that the rain is gracious, that it has granted a gift to me, the gift of the world...

from RAIN 9 September 1983, in Touching the Rock
(italics are my own)