Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Blind Walk

It was while walking down the road to my hostel (OBH) in IIIT-Hyderabad, that I decided to try blind walk. I was about 11 PM and the road was deserted. I'd been on that road like a million times so I decided to see how well I remembered it. It was a straight road, and nobody was walking on it, not even dogs. I closed my eyes, and decided to stop only at the end of the road. How would I know I'd reached the end of the road, I didn't know, but I started anyways. I started from the center of the road and took few steps quickly, then slowed my pace, then after few steps slowed it further, and with every next step tried to make sure I was keeping my foot on the road only. After some 15 steps, I suddenly opened my eyes and found myself one step away from hitting the pavement. That was disappointing. I couldn't even walk straight, I couldn't even trust my own legs !!!

I tried this experiment a few times but failed to reach the end of the road everytime. This fear of falling, this uncertainty without vision stopped me from going beyond a certain distance everytime I tried to. I gave up on blindwalk and went back to walking on the edge of the pavement, balancing my steps till the end of the road. One step in front of the other, carefully placed on that tiny black/white edge of the pavement, sometimes covered with soil and made it slippery. I made sure my foot was carefully placed within the given dimensions each time. However, I realized that this is not how we naturally walk, we can't place both our feet in that one straight line while walking, they need two different closeby parallel lines for a comfortable walk. Anyways, this was easier than the blind walk because I could see, and quickly react in case of imbalance. In a few days, I became quite good at it. I thought that good balance can help me in my Karate practice as well, which I'd left for quite some time. Besides, walking alone from the research lab to hostel can be boring and this kept my mind engaged.
A few weeks later, I got the notification from the conference committee that my paper had been Rejected, on reasonable grounds of course. After reading the reviews I realized that I should pay attention to the 'related work' section and the 'experiments' section. Had I been more vigilant and less of a slacker, my paper would have been easily accepted! One of the three authors had given 'weakly accept' to it, one gave 'weak reject' and the third one, 'strong reject'.
Anyways, I could feel the dejection in the silence of the night as I walked back to my hostel room. As always, the road down to my hostel was deserted. I hopped on to the pavement and started walking on its edge but stepped down immediately.

I guess I wasn't in the mood that night. I just wanted to feel this silence, this cold still air, the shadows of the trees from the street lights. I just wanted to be in the moment, and lose every thought in my mind, every purpose of my life. I stood there with my eyes closed. But then it occurred to me that I should go back to hostel before the dog's gang wars start, which usually begins after midnight. I didn't feel like opening my eyes and looking at the hostel I'd been living in for so many years. I felt it was taunting me that I couldn't even publish a paper. I started walking slowly, soaking in the whole moment. I felt every motion in my body, my arms disturbing the still air, my nose taking in deep breaths, my legs taking one step at a time and landing on the even surface of the road. The end of the road has a depression where we had a speedbreaker earlier, and I was trying to keep my legs aware of the change in the texture of the road. But then I had stopped thinking at that time, I just didn't want to care anymore. What I felt can't be termed as anger or disappointment, it was perhaps acute indifference. The fear of falling and getting hurt had paled away in front of the growing anguish over wasting away the best years in pursuit of something while getting dragged down by my vices and bad habits. The mishmash had now become too much!
Spending some quite time in my mind felt good and I wanted it to continue. I didn't even realize I was walking while I kept moving towards the end of the road. Suddenly I felt the bright light of the street light in front of my hostel. I knew I was near to the end of the road. My leg became alert and sensed for the dent in the road. Finally I stepped on it and after few more steps opened my eyes to the stairs straight into the hostel.
That night was not inspiring in true sense, as I never mended my bad habits, nor did I get a publication for quite some time after that. However I did walk till the end of the road, with my eyes closed. I realized that I must stop thinking and trust myself to do the right thing.

1 comment:

Dreamer said...

It is not unusual that you were about to hit the curb when you first tried walking with your eyes closed. Humans naturally walk in circles when they close their eyes. So, it is not your fear failure that took you towards the curb, it is the unknown force that drove you towards that. But, you did reach the end of the road with your eyes closed, you indeed exhibited acute focus on your footsteps. -Raja