Sunday, December 21, 2008

Folding without seeing

A few days ago, somewhere, I read about a blind folder: someone who would sit on buses or trains, and fold cranes and the like, and hand them to random individuals. At the time it struck me as inconceivable, and to an extent, it still does: but now I have a bit of a feeling for the fact that it could be done.

Most nights, to get the children to sleep, I sing songs and tell them poems. It's a long standing ritual, and at some point, we have to break them of some of it: we have to be able to leave them awake to go to sleep by themselves. But while we're working on that, many nights I sing until they are fully asleep.

And if I try to leave before they're gone, it can lead to complaints. So I sing a song or two after I believe they've nodded off: now this can be rather boring, and tonight I reached into my pocket, and found I had a grocery store receipt -- thin, shiny paper, perfect for folding. So I folded a triangle up, creased across, and tore a square off it. All in the dark. And set to work.

Strangely, the thing that I found most difficult to do was not the folding without sight: it was the singing at the same time. Ordinarily, I could fold a crane and sing at the same time: but focusing on the folding without eyes made it difficult to sing.

Nonetheless, I managed it. A beautiful little crane, essentially as good as I could have managed in the light. And I can believe that the blind can fold.

But how do they learn? I can now imagine trying to teach a blind child, one open to new ideas, to fold: teaching mountain and valley folds by feel, first: teaching rabbits ears by touch, with big triangles, and so forth. If I ever have the opportunity to teach such a person, I won't shy from it.

Yours, with new insight,

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