Two weeks ago I went to see a musical. Dirty Dancing that was. Unfortunately, my husband who presented me with the tickets was suffering from a flu and could not come with me. Finding somebody to accompany me on such a short notice was impossible. So, I went on my own. Best seats, sixth row, close to the center.
When I arrived and wanted to go to my seat I had to pass someone, who was already sitting there wearing a bright yellow safety jacket. It is narrow between the rows of seats and one should best get up in order to let people pass. But somebody next to him said that he could not stand up. Okay, I said and did not further bother but decided to just tell him that I would pass now and that I hoped he was okay when my knees touched his. “I am fine”, the man gently said not looking up. I passed and made myself comfortable feeling excited to watch Dirty Dancing in a theater. The seat to my right was of course empty and I invited the young lady and her mother, as I learned, to come closer and fill the gap. They happily moved a little more to the center. I found it awesome to see so many young people being interested in the movie, that hit cinemas back in 1987! The sixteen-year old even said: “Oh mama, why did we not live back in 1963?” The year Dirty Dancing plays in.
Anyhow, todays story is not about Dirty Dancing – the show was good, but I prefer the movie with Patrick Swayze for obvious reasons :0) . But rather about Fredy. He was the man with the yellow safety jacket sitting in the same row as me.
When the show ended, everybody was getting up and out of the theater. Several hundred people at once. But in my row, a man kept sitting and people almost disregardful passed him. I could not. I bent over and told him that the show had ended and it was then when I saw the blind man’s stick folded away next to his feet on the floor. “Oh!”, he said, “Is it?” “Yes, the curtains are closed and the musical is over. Everybody is leaving now and many will pass you.” I reconfirmed and asked: “Can I help you getting out?”. “Yes, please, that would be kind.” He slowly took his stick and carefully got up. I offered my arm to hold on to as he seemed very unstable on his feet. Luckily, people behind me were very patient. I intuitively kept talking to him telling him where we were going, what was around us, and especially what was in front of us. The stick was about three meters long and in danger of interfering with the many people trying to leave the theater through the only door on this side. But most importantly, I wanted to make him feel at ease.
He now seemed calm and felt safe holding tight to my right arm. “Are you okay?”, I asked to make sure I did not just interpret. “Yes, thank you.”, he replied. We came out the door entering the foyer when a staff member came upon us thanking me for bringing him out. “This is so wonderful of you!” She said. “Oh, no worries at all, I could not leave him sitting there, so I asked whether I could help him.” I replied. “Do you mind accompanying him to the front door so that I can help others and order a taxi for him?” “No, not at all, we are on our way anyway. Isn’t it Fredy?” “Yes, we are.” On we went, the staff member still on our side being so astonished by my act and thanking me repeatedly. “No need to thank me, really, I do it naturally.” I was taken aback that this was so surprising to her. A simple kindness act between human beings. I wondered, has it become so rare to observe kindness these days?
Fredy and I were having a good conversation now that the noise was a bit less in the foyer. We talked about the musical we just saw. Fredy loved it. “You know, I was 18 when Dirty Dancing was a smash hit”, “and I was only 11 years old” I added. “Tell me, how was the music for you today?” “Ah, very nice.” “Did you recall the pictures of the movie in your mind when listening to the music and the dancers today?” “Oh, yes!” Fredy said with a content look in his face. “Have you gone to other musicals like today?” “Mamma Mia with music from ABBA, do you know it?”. “I do, but I didn’t see it.” “And Io senza te with music from Peter, Sue and Marc.” “Wow, I think it so cool that you do that. Do you know that Thriller with songs from Michael Jackson is also played in theaters? I am sure you love his music.” “Of course, I do love Michael Jackson.” “The main actor has to play Michael Jackson and you know what? He is breathtaking. His voice sounds so similar, his moves look like him and yes, he knows how to do those famous dance steps Jacko used to made us crazy with. I really recommend you go and experience this.” “Yes, maybe I should go and see it.” “You definitely should.”
We arrived at the front door but were still waiting for the taxi to come. I had time and the next train was only leaving twenty five minutes later anyway. So I stayed with Fredy a little longer. I felt it was alright to ask Fredy about his blindness as we were like friends by now. I learnt that it happened slowly over time and that he suffers from a sickness that does this. He is completely blind since four years. Whoa. I felt deeply for him and we kept on openly speaking about his not seeing. I asked him about his favourite seasons. Spring and summer. The same for me. Especially spring is such a unique season here in middle Europe. Birds are coming back from their winter residence areas, flowers start to bloom sometimes as early as February, tree buds start growing, bees and other insects are on the fly again, willow catkins burst into a beautiful yellow, leaves grow into a green forest canopy. Imagine not being able to SEE all of this!
His taxi finally arrived and I was about to catch that next train. I was so deeply moved and touched that I could hardly say goodbye. We held our hands, thanked each other for the beautiful conversation, and bid farewell. I managed to tell him how grateful I felt to have met him, to have spent this precious time with him, to have learnt from him, and that I wished him very well, and a guide dog by his side. Gratitude came right back to me.
Hard to believe that we built such a beautiful natural human connection in just twenty minutes. Indeed, the story I rolled out here mainly happened after the show in around twenty minutes. He was deeply grateful for my helping hand and I appreciated to have been able to lend mine. It is purely human. We are all able to experience this with strangers, and for me it has become something I really treasure and something that fills my heart in a very special way. I rarely actively look for it, it just happens as I go with an open heart and mind. I left the theater that day full of love, excitement, gratitude, joy, happiness, and in high spirits.
I am so very glad to have met you Fredy. Thank you, I will never forget you and I wish I had your contact so I could read this story and many others to you.
Fredy does not see with his eyes anymore, but he sees with his heart. I am sure, we all can do that.
What do you SEE?