[OUTLOOK]Lessons for us all from Helen Keller

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[OUTLOOK]Lessons for us all from Helen Keller

One day, Helen Keller asked her friend what she had seen in the woods. The friend, however, told Ms. Keller that there was nothing special to see.
Nothing special! Ms. Keller could not understand the answer, because her friend was blessed with good eyes for vision and good ears for hearing.
So Ms. Keller, the famed blind American educator, made a plan -― she would write what she would like to see if she could receive the gift of vision for three days. She wrote an essay titled “Three Days to See” that was published in the January 1933 issue of the Atlantic Monthly.
Her essay consoled Americans who had been through hard times in the wake of the Great Depression. She made people realize that the world we take for granted every day is actually filled with miracles.
That is why Reader’s Digest selected that writing by Ms. Keller as the best essay of the 20th century. The essay was once included in an English textbook for Korean students as well. Here is a sample of Ms. Keller’s writing.
“On the first day. . . I should like to gaze long upon the face of my dear teacher, Mrs. Ann Sullivan Macy, who came to me when I was a child and opened the outer world to me. I should want not merely to see the outline of her face, so that I could cherish it in my memory. . .
“The next day ― the second day of sight ― I should arise with the dawn and see the thrilling miracle by which night is transformed into day.
“My next stop would be the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for just as the Museum of Natural History reveals the material aspects of the world, so does the Metropolitan show the myriad facets of the human spirit. . .
“The last day I shall spend in the workday world of the present, amid the haunts of men going about the business of life. . .
“My third day of sight is drawing to an end. Perhaps there are many serious pursuits to which I should devote the few remaining hours, but I am afraid that on the evening of that last day I should run away to the theatre, to a hilariously funny play, so that I might appreciate the overtones of comedy in the human spirit. . .
“At midnight my temporary respite from blindness would cease, and permanent night would close in on me again. Naturally in those three short days I should not have seen all I wanted to see. Only when darkness had again descended upon me should I realize how much I had left unseen. But my mind would be so overcrowded with glorious memories that I should have little time for regrets.”
Every day, we face what Helen Keller wished to see and experience dearly, without noticing how miraculous it is. Or, we forget how wonderful it is.
Ms. Keller advised us by writing, “Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. . . Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. . . Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again.”
Some say health is wealth, so let’s remember Ms. Keller’s gratitude and her insight. Perhaps we may realize how precious and miraculous life is if we don’t take things like vision and hearing for granted.
Looking back on this year, every day was a miracle. Many may disagree, saying that they have lived a hectic life all year. But isn’t it miraculous that we stay alive in peace, even though we had lead such a hectic life?
It is a miracle that companies of all sizes have stayed afloat even though they came close to bankruptcy.
It is a miracle that export volume exceeded $300 billion. Another miracle is that our country survived the North Korean nuclear crisis and a crisis over wartime control, with our ever-so-special president.
There is one day to go before this year ends. Let’s make the last day a miraculous day. And let’s make the year 2007 another year of miracles.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chung Jin-hong
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