Last night, I tuned into Netflix to rewatch Bird Box. Even a year later, the film still doesn’t disappoint. With the benefit of hindsight, I realized that the various characters were compelled to kill themselves after seeing the mysterious entities and said that there’s only one group of people that would be at an advantage in that scenario: blind people. As it turns out, the Sandra Bullock character and the 2 kids end up as a school for the blind, where they are safe from the entities because nobody can see them. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Dialogue in the Dark exhibit.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across the Dialogue in the Dark exhibit during a July 2009 trip to Atlantic Station in Downtown Atlanta. I was spending the day there and I didn’t have much to do. So after eating at Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro, I decided to spend the money and check out the exhibit. I was in a group of 7, not counting the guide. I was also the only person there by myself but nobody in the group seemed to mind. For about an hour, I navigated through pitch-black darkness with only my senses of smell, touch, hearing, and taste to guide me…emphasis on the hearing because I had to hear the guide’s instructions. It was a pretty cool experience and I gained a lot of insight into what it feels like to be blind and how visually-impaired people get around.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, it was an exhilarating experience. I know, I know…exhilarating is a term usually reserved for something over the top exciting like Items 5, 6, 7, 19, 36, 64, 66, and 71 on my bucket list or sex. But when I write that getting around through 8 rooms in pitch black without injuring myself is an exhilarating experience, take my word for it. Like I wrote earlier, I gained a lot of insight and respect for blind people. I learned a lot about the game of life inside of the game of life, so to speak.
What it means to me now? The Atlantic Station location of Dialogue in the Dark closed a few years ago so going back there is a no-go. I did check out the exhibit when I lived in the Seoul metro area. It wasn’t the same though because it was only me and another person going through the English-speaking session. I know they have the exhibits at different places around the world—mostly in Europe—and one day, I’ll visit them. But for now, the experience in Atlanta stands out. I’m deeply appreciative of how me and my 6 teammates worked together…especially considering they were all older married couples. They refused to leave me behind, always checking up on me. The experience of literally being blind for an hour heightened my senses when it came to touching, smelling, hearing, and tasting. Now, when I’m in the dark, I get this weird, Spidey-like sense that kicks in and gets me through to the light.