Blind Sight

November 14, 2017

Recently I came across a very inspiring TED talk given by Isaac Lidsky, a remarkable man with an exceptionally wide-ranging CV.

Lidsky is a polymath, with a degree in law and another in maths and computing – both from Harvard. He served as a lawyer with the US Justice Department and now runs a large construction services company based in Florida. He co-founded an internet start-up and a nonprofit, and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). And he was once a child TV star.

But what inspires me about Lidsky is not his résumé. It is his extraordinarily clear-sighted way of looking at the world, perhaps as the result of a medical condition: he is blind.

Diagnosed at 13 with retinitis pigmentosa, Lidsky had lost his sight completely by the age of 25.

“I awfulised – it’s a psychologist’s term,” he says. “I would lose independence, it would be the end of achievement for me, I would not enjoy the true love and respect of a woman. I would not love and respect myself.”

But rather than mope, he dug deep inside himself – taking these words of Helen Keller to heart: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

He understood that if he could not imagine a happy, healthy and fulfilled future for himself, then a lonely, unhappy existence would be almost inevitable.

“You are the creator of your reality,” he warns in the TED talk. That requires you to hold yourself accountable – seeing beyond your fear, silencing your inner critic and accepting both your strengths and weaknesses. “What do you fear?” he asks. “What lies do you like to tell yourself?”

Buddha had already said: “What we think, we become.” On the other hand, we don’t need to become what we think.

If that sounds confusing, consider it this way: it’s easy to identify with our thoughts without realising we are not necessarily those thoughts. There is the mental chatter, the self-criticism, the judgment and beliefs of others — all this could be just noise that prevents us from seeing our own truths.

Very often the truth emerges only under extreme circumstances when the lies we use to construct our realities no longer work; at those times, only truth and courage can guide us.

As for Lidsky, when he chose “to step out of fear’s tunnel, to build a blessed life instead”, he began to create a dream career and a fulfilling life. Best of all, he says: “I share my beautiful life now with wife Dorothy, our triplets and new baby Clementine.”

His ability to turn a negative situation not just into a positive one, but into an entire world view is rather wonderful.

So when he adds: “I hope you can see what I can see,” I am moved to follow his lead.

Bruno Wang, founder of the Pureland Foundation