THREE DAYS TO SEE
Sometimes, I have thought that it would be an excellent rule to live each day as if we should die tomorrow. Such an attitude would emphasize sharply the values of life. We should live each day with gentleness, vigour, and a keenness of appreciation which is often lost when time stretches before us in the constant panorama of more days and months and years to come. There are those, of course, who would adopt the epicurean motto of "eat, drink, and be merry" but most people would be chastened by the certainty of impending death.
In stories, the doomed hero is usually saved at the last minute by some stroke of fortune, but almost always his sense of values is changed. He becomes more appreciative of the meaning of life and its permanent spiritual values. It has often been noted that those who live, or have lived, in the shadow of death bring a mellow sweetness to everything they do.
Perhaps I can best illustrate by imagining what I should most like to see if I was given the use of my eyes, say for just three days.
On the first day, I should want to see the people whose kindness, gentleness and companionship have made my life worth living.
The next day -- the second day of sight -- I should arise with the dawn and see the thrilling miracle by which night is transformed into day. I should behold with awe the magnificent panorama of life with which the sun awakens the sleeping earth.
This day I should devote to a hasty glimpse of the world, past and present. I should want to see the pageant of man's progress, the kaleidoscopic of the ages. How can so much be compressed into one day? Through the museums, of course?
The following morning I should greet the dawn, anxious to discover, new delights, for I am sure that, for those who have eyes which really see, the dawn of each day must be perfectly new revelation of beauty. This according to the terms of my miracle is to be my third and last day of sight.
I shall have not time to waste in regret for longings; there is so much to see. The first day I devoted to my friends, animate and inanimate. The second revealed to me the history of man and nature. Today I shall spend in the workday world of the present, amid the haunts of men going about the business of life. And where can one find so many activities and conditions of men as in New York? So the city becomes my destination.
Now and then I have tested my seeing friends to discover what they see. Recently, I was visited by a very good friend who had just returned from a long walk in the woods, I asked her what she had observed. "Nothing in particular", she replied. I might have been incredulous had I not been accustomed to such responses, for long ago I became convinced that the seeing see little.
How was it possible, I asked myself, to walk for an hour in the woods and see nothing worthy of note? I who cannot see can find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch. I feel the delicate symmetry of a leaf. I pass my hands lovingly about the smooth skin of a silver birch, or the rough shaggy bark of a pine. In spring, I touch the branches of trees hopefully in search of a bud, the first sign of awakening Nature after her winter's sleep. I feel the delightful, velvety texture of a flower, and discover its remarkable convolutions; and something of the miracle of Nature is revealed to me. Occasionally, if I am fortunate, I place my hand gently on a small tree and feel the happy quiver of a bird in full song. I am delighted to have the cool waters of a brook rush through my open fingers. To me, a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug. To me the pageant of seasons is a thrilling and unending drama, the action of which streams through my finger tips.
If I were the president of a university, I should establish a compulsory course in "How to Use Your Eyes". The professor would try to show his pupils how they could add joy to their lives by really seeing what passes unnoticed before them. He would try to awaken their dormant and sluggish faculties.