Today was the summer carnival in our local town and it was, to be honest, a fairly desultory affair. But we were witness to a truly magical moment.
A local athletics academy had set up a short running track on the main street for kids to run short sprints. But, before they started letting the kids race, a middle aged man in a Hi-Viz jacket ran down the track, with a staff member at his side.
Well, I say ran … he actually kinda jogged. Usain Bolt doesn’t have too much to worry about. Indeed, Usain’s mom’s 50m record is probably not at risk.
But here’s what set this balding man apart:
He was wearing dark glasses and sweeping a white stick before him as he ran. The brief announcement before he started – almost entirely lost in the hubbub and the chatter – said the runner was sight impaired, functionally blind.
And there he was, running down this track … running blind.
I’m weeping a little even now at the memory of this massive act of faith.
Would you, could you close your eyes – keep them closed – and run fifty meters blind?
He did. He jogged the length of the track and for his troubles received a smattering of applause from the few people who had stopped to watch. Very English really.
But I was close enough (and lucky enough) to over-hear what he said to the man who guided him away From the track at the end of his long, dark leap of faith.
“That’s the first time I’ve run in 27 years.”
And so the moment came and went, just like that, barely noticed, almost unobserved. As Roy said at the end of Blade Runner, ‘lost … like tears … in rain’.
But I’ll never forget it. And I hope, by writing it here, it will somehow live forever. It deserves to …
I’m glad I was there to see what he could not. Glad he taught me about what we can be if we’re willing to take that first step into the dark …