wordly images

will to power

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 31, 2009
climb every mountain

climb every mountain

I just watched the most incredible documentary that was truly beautiful and inspirational. It was called Blindsight.

It begins with the story of Eric Weihenmayar who became totally blind at the age of 15, whilst at the same time trying to come to terms with the loss of his mother who had been killed. Now, I think that would be more than enough to tip an adult over the edge – let a lone a 15 year old boy! However, Eric was determined not to let his blindness (and pain) rule his life. So, he set out to live his life as any fully sighted person would  – in fact he achieved, in a relatively short space of time, more than a fully-sighted person would in a life time: he was the first blind man in history to climb Mount Everest (thats 29,035 feet high!) and went on to become a ‘World Class Blind Adventurer’.

Inspirational is not the word and I will apologise now for the amount of times that this word may well be used in this post!

The next equally inspirational person to appear in the film was Sabriye Tenberken who, also blind, rode on horse back at the age of 26 rode through the Himalayas, with a local Tibetan woman, to find blind children so that she could open the first blind school in Lhasa for these children (Braille Without Borders).

Historically, blind children (people) in this remote area of the world are so completely and utter shunned – they are treated like lepers and seen as bad luck to the communities that they live in. It is believed that blindness is karmic: the child is thought to have been a ‘very bad/evil person’ in a previous incarnation. Not the kind of karma anyone would wish for! These children are spat on and pushed aside in the streets. Infact, the introduction to two of the young children in the film is of them walking down a street in Lhasa when they accidentally bump into an old woman who then begins to scream and curse them, telling them that they “deserve to eat their fathers corpse”!!!

Not only do they have to deal with verbal and physical abuse on the street but many of them also endure the same at home (such as being told to their face that they would be better off dead!) and some are even be sold into begging at a very early age, never to see their families again. And, this is not always to do with the fact that their families don’t love them but more to do with the ingrained ignorance  of not understanding that these children are exactly the same as any other fully-sighted child.

I think by this point in the movie, I had already cried 3 times and it would prove to definitely not be the last. However, my pity and sadness soon turned to complete and utter admiration and awe at all the blind people involved in this movie. And, i hope thos does not come across as patronising, but it was not just because of what they achieved because they were blind but also because of their determination, proudness and lack of self-pity.

Anyway, to cut a long story short (and to not spoil it for those of you who have not seen it), a group of blind children climb the 23,000 ft Lhakpa Ri, on the North side of Mount Everest. This has to be the most motivating, thought-provoking films that I have ever seen. This is a no-holds barred, fly-on-the-wall documentary that will leave you with a sense of whatever shit you may be going through in your life, then take a que from these amazing adults and children.

Thinking about what one of the guides said about how Easteners never even thought about climbing the highest mountains before Westerners came along and wanted to do it…….simply because they never felt the need to prove anything to themselves by this. So what is it about us, as Westerners, that we feel this compulsion to stand on the ‘roof of the world’ – that we always need to strive to achieve something/anything, to make us feel in some way complete?

Ok, one might argue that its all relative………….hmmmmmmmm………….I wonder if we can even begin to compare our Western needs, desires etc with those of a young blind child in Tibet’s needs and desires?

And, to paraphrase Sabriye Tenberken “its not about reaching the top of the mountain…….as these children have already climbed every mountain to get to where they are today…..”

Rent this movie today and I can guarantee that it will leave a little nugget of hope in every one of us out there, struggling to find some clarity and, dare I even use the word again, inspiration in our lives.

Dedicated to my struggling friend, PC.

PS watch out for the ‘Ice Palace’ scene at the end …….a place that is beautiful in its simplicity to bring such joy and happiness to those who enter it

Hellyjphotos.2008.Montauk, Long Island, NY State

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2 Responses

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  1. Katie said, on March 31, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll see if we can get hold of it over here 🙂

    Determination, pride and lack of self-pity are qualities we all need and when I see them in others it always does bring a lump to my throat, that ‘against all odds’ emotion.

    We all need some inspiration and hope in our lives and trying to nurture and keep that sense of self belief can be hard enough even in children who do not have any kind of obvious hurdles to overcome.
    Oh and then that small thing of keeping it alive throughout life’s ups and downs, yeah thats another challenge altogether!!

    I kind of think this could be a good one for me to share with the family.. cheers for that 🙂

  2. hellyj said, on March 31, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Hey Katie, yes, I think you may be right about sharing it with your family. Infact, its one of those films that perhaps should be shown in schools……..perhaps it is already. It really did touch me on so many levels and I can’t see how it could fail to touch anyone else in some form or another.

    I’m a wee bit of a movie buff – not in the respect that I go out to the movies all the time but I do like to see a good film – even if its from Netflix (US equiv’ of LoveFilm) – especially if it involves the human psyche and/or other cultures etc.I watched another interesting docu/drama a couple of weeks ago by Nick Broomfield (who always chooses very thought-provoking true life material) called ‘Battle for Haditha’ which is about the massacre in 2005 of a group of innocent civilians by US soldiers in one attack. However, he shows both sides of the story, from the Iraqui’s to the young american soldiers (because thats all they are – barely off the soccer field) so that in the end, everyone seems to be a victim – or should I say – no one is a winner.

    Anyway…….a one to watch out for too if you haven’t already seen it. It’ll certainly make you think.

    Ok….back to work for me! 🙂


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