left Xtraordinary Living At Its Best: Dining in the Dark

Monday, May 08, 2006

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Dining in the Dark


At PL&L we have always looked to provide unique experiences to help us facilitate the learning process. Most of these experiences have occurred in our Learning Vacations. Experiences like swimming with the whales in Tonga or touring Europe aboard the Orient Express are hard to bring to the classroom setting of our local courses.

And yet this past Saturday, we offered an experience that in my mind, ranks right up there with some of these magnificent Learning Vacations. As part of the Living in Appreciation Yearlong course, we arranged to have one of our weekend sessions "in the dark." Here is how it went.

The company who staged this event is called Opaque and they put together an event called Dining in the Dark. Their concept is to allow you to "willingly plunge into a world of sensitivity you have never experienced before, taking you through a journey of taste, sound and touch all in the dark."

And so it was! Sitting in a pitch-black dining room, we were guided to our tables by blind servers who were specifically trained to serve meals in the dark. Not only was their service equivalent to a 5-star restaurant, but their compassion, guidance and reassurance was invaluable.

Being deprived of my sight for two hours was a fascinating journey that included all of the following: fear, stress, elation, gratitude, appreciation, insightful conversation and lots of fun.

The Living in Appreciation course is off to a great start. I can't wait to see where this journey will take us next!

6 comments:

A & M Remillard said...

Hi Rick! Loved your radio interview! Martha & I appreciate our sight in a new & more precious way-- to walk outside before the sun rises and feel increased gratitude for what we see of our world from our front door is a thank you for the experience of complete darkness --
Peace & Love from A&M

Sue Almon-Pesch said...

Hi Rick -- PL&L says their courses are experiential learning. Well, the Dining in the Dark experience was out of this world. I never would have done this on my own, but with my "Living in Appreciation" year-long course mates, I felt safe and got "into" the moment. I will never forget the taste of the warm apple cobbler and ice cream -- when all of a sudden I took a bite into a cool ripe strawberry. To learn to appreciate and value all of our senses was a marvelous adventure. Thank you for making this happen.
Hugs, Sue Almon-Pesch

Cheri Kaylor said...

Rick / Lindon

The Dining in the Dark experience was interesting to me in many ways. From the time I was about 14 or 15 until a couple of years ago when I had laser surgery on my eyes, I required glasses or contact lenses in order to see clearly. And for many of those years my eye-sight was gradually deteriorating. So when I was in college, I began a program of learning to move around my house in the dark, without my "visual prosthetics" and with little or no light. I developed techniques (such as the one that our server suggested: running your hand along the wall beside you), taking slow, smaller than usual steps, memorizing the layout of my house, etc. So the experience was not daunting to me in the least. I was able to orient myself in the room and correctly identify where our table was and where at the table I was sitting with respect to the rest of the room. I felt comfortable and was surprised when others at the table indicated that they were not. And it surprised me even more when it turned out that even more people had been apprehensive or worse in anticipation of, at the beginning of, or even throughout the experience, which came out during the shares the next day.

I did find it interesting that when I wanted to concentrate on something (a near-by conversation, getting the food onto my fork, etc.), I would close my eyes, just as I do in "real life." It was "instinctive" (but probably really just habit). I have discovered from experience that closing my eyes enhances my ability to focus on my other senses, but had not realized how strong the association between no sight and enhanced focus has become for me.

Another aspect that was interesting to me was that one of the people sitting next to me was overwhelmed by the noise and inability to hear distinctly all the conversations going on. This person was upset and frustrated at being unable to take part in all of the other conversations, whereas I was comfortable just sitting and listening, focusing on those conversations I could hear, taking part or not as seemed appropriate.

I did find myself feeling uncomfortable when someone at my table began asking the server how she became blind. At first I thought it was intrusive and even perhaps rude, but it turned out our server seemed quite comfortable discussing it. And hearing her story was actually inspiring. So in this instance, I learned that my discomfort at approaching this topic with the server was mine, and without the curiousity of my table-mate, I would have lost out on an additional dimension of the experience.

When I had laser surgery to have my eyesight corrected, it was truly like a miracle. My new vision has been rated consistantly at close to 15/20, which is "better than normal." And although I do go for days at a time without appreciating this gift, I am struck several times a week with an experience of how good my eyesight is without any visual prosthesis. And each time this happens, I feel grateful that the operation was a success for me.

So, thank you for this experience, which was a reminder to me in many ways that my eyesight is a gift, and yet, should I lose it, I would still be able to function and function well. There would be much for me to (re)learn in that case, but I would be OK.

Andy said...

Hah! Rick, your "photo" says it all. It's so realistic. Just as I remember it.

Now we need the sound. I was struck by how loudly everyone was speaking. We all seemed to relax by the time salad was served and could enjoy conversation about what we were eating, feeling, thinking, etc.

A little smell-o-vision would help describe the experience. The entres and desserts were distinct.

And a sense of touch describes the feel of gleefully spearing a lettice leaf (I know I've got something on the end of the fork) and then getting smacked in the nose by the size of the thing going into my mouth.

And a little focus on taste for the nut encrusted Mahi Mahi, the summer squash, carrots, beans (green I'm sure) and rice.

What strikes me about the experience is that I found ways to enjoy myself. And I'm sure it's because I knew the experience would end; the attitude I carried into the experience let me enjoy it. I think that if I had really just gone blind the emotional impact of that would be very hard to then get back to enjoying life. But this experience shows me that I could do it. Throughout the evening it was obvious that the wait staff was not playing "poor me". I know they enjoyed the evening as much as I.

Best regards, Andy

Karen said...

The joys of extraordinary living – I appreciate how this experience, eating in the dark, put courage into my heart and made my spirit alive. I loved how my senses were enlightened, how the waiters had such brilliance in their service and how I felt rejoiced in the comfort of everyone helping each other in some form or fashion. I had to be, and was, open and trusting that all would be okay. Faith is strong and powerful. Even though the room was dark, I could see how life is filled with infinite possibilities for new beginnings and new discoveries – only if I change my thinking. I just felt so awaken to the wonder of what my life is, can and will be by the end of this yearlong course. Here’s to the joys of extraordinary living and appreciation.

Diane Endo said...

Thank you for giving us this experience. As Sue mentioned, I may not have sought this out as something to do on my own, but I am thrilled to have done it. I so appreciate our servers who were blind and did a phenomenal job making us feel comfortable and safe. I also found that I was telling my friends about it upon my return home. And, you're right, we definitely have to talk about it from our own experience because it is difficult to re-create the picture for someone else. Thank you again. Diane