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stephen kuusisto   Lying in Wait for Happiness  
 
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  Because I am blind strangers often ask me if I have better hearing than sighted people. I always reply that clinical studies have shown that the blind have no better hearing than those who can see. I wish, at all times, to dispel the notion that blind people in particular, and the disabled in general have compensatory gifts from the gods. Such ideas invariably overlook the accomplishments of conscious practice. The blind who listen with care have had to cultivate the art.

All my life I've listened to recorded words, street sounds, shards of conversations. Habitual listening often reveals the steep and unsatisfying ethos of our civilization. Not long ago I overheard some vulgar cab drivers in the Syracuse train station. Having seen me with my guide dog, they talked obscenely about a local blind woman who they collectively disliked. It never crossed their minds that I could hear them.

I listen, must listen -- then spin the sounds into sentences. And every once in a while something marvelous happens: on a spring night I hear birds soft as silk moving in the new leaves.
 
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Copyright © 1998 Stephen Kuusisto.

Photo of Stephen Kuusisto and Corky copyright © Marion Ettlinger