Category Archives: awareness

Intricacies of Compassion

Make sure to include self-compassion.Hi there everyone!!

I’ve just completed a weekend with one of the most inclusive communities I’ve ever experienced – The Contact Improv Regional Jam!

When I acknowledged one of the organizers with this realization, he asked me if I could be more specific. So here is one such example.

During Sunday night’s dance, my water bottles ran out of water, and I was getting really thirsty from my exhaustive moves. I asked my friend, Alex, “Do you know if there’s a water fountain nearby?”

From the Mundane to the Profound

One of my friends, Jordon, thought that this subject matter is obvious and he understands the lessons already.  He didn’t want a sermon, and didn’t want to be told what to do.

I assert that sometimes the obvious isn’t obvious.  Common sense is not common.  As another friend, Sarah, said, “Some people need to be hit over the head to get it”.

I don’t want to hit you over head.  Consider that a master does the same fundamentals as a novice, only with extreme precision, graceful flow, and impeccable execution.  More importantly, the master does this without conscious effort, in the realm of unconscious competence.

You may already understand a lesson, and are capable of understanding it at a much deeper and substantial level.

Alex’s Answer Became the Genesis of this Article.

Nice is different than good.Telling you what the five words Alex spoke to the question “Do you know if there’s a water fountain nearby?” may sound obvious and simple. So, let me take you step-by-step, to really get the deeper meaning and significance of his compassionate words. You may skip to the end, but may miss some valuable lessons.

Play a game and guess what the magic phrase might be.  Challenge yourself and see if you come up close to the answers that follow…

How Hard Could It Be?

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.Over the years, some people have responded to my challenges of not being able to find things, places, or people with this remark: “Just ask somebody – How Hard Can That Be?”

In many situations (like being lost in the suburbs), there is nobody for miles around. That can be hard.

Imagine someone visually impaired, trying to just locate a moving body. Keep in mind that that body may be in a hurry, on their cell phone, listening to music, or simply lost in their own thoughts. All of these visual signals would be lost on me.

Empathy is seeing with the eyss of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.Now imagine not having the ability to make eye contact with anybody. How would you know if you have someone’s attention? In this culture, grabbing somebody or touching them, could be considered hostile. In dense urban areas, there may be so much traffic or background noise, that audio communication is neither effective, nor even considered an option (like a loud night club).

Empathy is a gateway to compassion. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. When we help people in difficult situations, our energy reflects this phenomenon.

Take Risks, and Ask Anyways

You Are The Risk I'll Always TakeI wrote an article called “The Power of an Authentic Request”, so I understand the nuances of being approachable, being clear, being concise, and being compelling. And there are many good people in the world, who either authentically consider, or authentically accept requests from strangers.

As you may know from your own experience, many people ignore strangers altogether. Even our culture teaches, “Don’t talk to strangers”.

What if that stranger looks really different or is acting in a peculiar way? I can understand why people wouldn’t want to talk to a blind albino, especially if they had never seen an albino in their life before (or may not have ever seen a picture of one).

Be a stranger talker, and have a relationship with a stranger.

Sometimes, I Am Met with Anger

The more something upsets you, the more iti is meant for you. When it no longer upsets you, it is no longer needed because the lesson is complete.What can be worse than being ignored? Being ridiculed, laughed at, cursed at, verbally assaulted, or concerned for my safety.

This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen from time to time. At some level, I do understand it now.

I am sometimes (without knowing it) invading people’s space. They don’t understand that I can’t see, and they see me as being confrontational first.

For example, one time I went up to a couple to ask them for directions. They seemed really upset. Then, I noticed cameras all around me. I had accidentally walked onto a movie set and disturbed the filming. I guess that costs people money, too.

In retrospect, I realize that there have been times when what I’ve been asking for was right in front of me.  People thought I was either crazy, or trying to be funny.

Sometimes, I’m Given Inaccurate, Unclear or Incomplete Information

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.In people’s haste to get rid of me (or quickly solve the problem), they guess, or tell me what they “think” is true. Perhaps what they think they know, just isn’t so?

Are people’s heart really in the right place? Receiving inaccurate information can cost hours of time and frustration. Of course, I try to course-correct by asking other people. Nevertheless, there have been times where I have been sent back-and-forth over the same territory because of conflicting information.

The biggest communicationproblem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.In some situations, people use their fingers and say “over there” or “that way”. I explain that I cannot see, but they just don’t understand. They continue, “just behind that huge building!”

My favorite phrase is “you can’t miss it”, because then I know I’m going to miss it.

Strategies of Deference

In other attempts to be helpful, some people defer the problem. For example, they direct me to another person I need to find.  But I can’t locate them (or that person doesn’t exist).

We blame society, but we are society.In some situations, people will defer by time. They will ask me to wait five minutes or so before they can help me. Unfortunately, most of the time, five minutes becomes twenty-five minutes. Or worse, the person forgets about me, and leaves me without notice.

And still, some will defer the importance of the request and blame me for having the challenge. In the case of requesting water, possible responses would be, “don’t worry—you don’t need any water right now!”, or “why don’t you carry more water with you?”

Meeting the Need vs. Getting into My World

Integral wisdom involves a direct participation in every moment: the Observer and the obsered are dissolved in the light of pure awareness, and no mental concepts or attitudes are present to dim that lightI believe that compassion isn’t just about accommodation. It’s about integration. That is, nobody wins unless we all win. And getting my needs met is not winning—it’s merely surviving.

Winning is having our needs met, with dignity, in an inclusive and enjoyable way. Giving accurate and clear information upon a request, is compassionate. And here’s how to go even further, tiny-step by tiny-step.

Consider: “Let Me Get It for You”

You can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone.This is going one step beyond solving the problem. It is taking responsibility for the problem.

At the same time, the statement infers a relationship dynamic that is subordinate. While it is great to have things done for us, it may leave us feeling helpless in the long run.

If Alex brought water for me, I still wouldn’t know where the water fountain is. If I needed more water in the future, I would be reliant on making a similar request again.

Ponder: “Let Me Help You Get It”

"A kind gesture can reach a would that only compassion can heal." - Steve MaraboliThis response is so beautiful. To be nit-picky, this phrase has the connotation that help and support is needed.

And yes, in many cases that is a true statement—there is a need being met with support. However, there is another layer of communication I found to be even more comforting…

Alex said (drum roll): “Let’s Go Find It Together…”

We Are All In This TogetherWow. Do you see how this statement is making us equal partners on a noble journey?

It’s so co-operative, collaborative and co-creative! It is giving BOTH of us the shared responsibility. It is honoring all parties as contributing members of the team.

More than that, the power is in the tone of the words spoken. Alex said “Let’s go find it together…” with enthusiasm. There was a sense that he would enjoy this journey with me. In fact, he may even learn from the adventure through my unique perspective.

Alex made the solution fun. That was the most refreshing splash of water that has ever quenched my thirst!

It’s Your Choice

Everyday we have a choice...I don’t expect everyone to live in this vibration all the time—that’s not practical. However, being aware of all the intricate possibilities of compassion, will give us more openings to choose to be there more often.

What’s available to you now, is the possibility of touching somebody’s life in such a way that they feel the embrace of humanity.

Extending the Metaphor

I’ve been sharing my life experiences around visual impairment.  These intricacies of compassion can be generalized to any disabilities, and can be applied to anybody at all.

Be the person you needed when you were younger.What If a child is lost in a busy mall with no parents or guardians in sight?  We could inform security.  Or we could say have a quick conversation and check-in with the child.  If our perception was correct, then we could say, “Let’s go find them together…”

Perhaps an elderly person with mobility issues is looking for an elevator or ramp.  Don’t just give them directions.  Try, “Let’s go find it together…”

It’s not about the magical five words.  You’ll have to do some work by being present, understanding the context, and generating what works for you.

If somebody needs to eat at a vegetarian restaurant and is making an inquiry, it may sound a little creepy to say, “Let’s go find it together…”  Best case scenario, you’ll make a new friend.

BONUS: The Lessons Continue

I shared these intricacies of compassion with my friend, Jeanette.  She asserted that Alex’s words may have been incidental, because he needed water for himself, and he was just killing two birds with one stone. That could be, though it wouldn’t take away from his compassion.

If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that.When we did find the water fountain, I noticed it first. That may not have happened if Alex was just “helping me”. I got a great sense of empowerment by finding the water fountain with Alex.

Before I started drinking the water, Alex asked, “Are you OK to get back on your own?”

I knew then that Alex didn’t need any water. But more importantly, Alex wasn’t being a caretaker: There was a great dance he was missing, and he valued his dance time as much as he understood that I probably had the capacity to make it back to the dancefloor on my own.

The Ripple Effect

Words can last forever!Alex’s five words made such an impact, that it spawned several conversations around this subject of compassion and inclusion.

His words also birthed this article, which you are now reading. You now have the opportunity to continue this ripple of compassion into your own circles of influence.

Oh, How Easy Can It Be!

Transforming Corporate Culture – 21 Ideas about Accessibility that Can Change the WorldWith an inclusive atmosphere like the Contact Improvisation Community, it’s easy for someone to ask for assistance. In the outside world, I hope you now understand how hard it can be.

Now, realize that’s life is not binary, but rather a spectrum of possibilities. Everything in between happens. Where in the spectrum will you play?

In contrast to many corporate cultures, inclusion isn’t about meeting arbitrary accessibility standards. Rather, it is about taking a sincere interest by creating a personal connection with a human being—honoring needs, preferences, and requests.  (Honoring doesn’t necessarily mean accepting.)

Go take a field trip and exercise your depths of compassion.

May We Have This Dance?

Answer through dance.

Alex facilities a monthly dance jam called Chemistry in Motion. You are welcome to join the both of us at our next event to experience contact improvisational dance, and the energy of an inclusive community.

Let’s love the world together…

Love,
[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary

P.S. Isn’t it note-worthy to notice that “Let’s go find it together…” has a similar linguistic structure as my motto, “Let’s love the world together…”?

More Mouth-Watering Cocktails to Quench Your Humanitarian Thirst:
Helping People in Difficult Situations
Making Difficult Conversations Easy
Helping People with Disabilities {everybody}
Dance is Personal Development

My Changing Love for Microsoft

Not too many individuals influenced me in life. Number one was Anthony Robbins, and number two was Bill Gates.

At the age of twelve, I hunted for my first computer. I had experience on the Commodore PET, Commodore 64, and the Apple II. They all seemed very primitive. At the Kiwanis Club, I was introduced to the IBM PC Jr.

The PC was very different. The programming language it had (BASIC) seemed so much more comprehensive and exciting, while being easier and simpler. My heart was sold!

I ended up buying an IBM PS/2 (Model 25) and I was in love. I would spend the next several years writing all sorts of software and games.

Through my research, I understood that DOS (the PC Operating System) was actually sold to IBM by Microsoft. This intrigued me and so I bought a book called “Hard Drive” which was the biography of Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft).

Keep in mind, that I hated to read, and only had read children’s books in their entirety! Moreover, I would be so motivated, that on my way to school on public transit, I would whip out my magnifying glass and strain my eyes, so I could get several pages of the book into my system.

As Microsoft evolved, so too did I. Microsoft’s help system was so good, that I just read through mounds of documentation for all of their software. I experimented, I learned, and I had tons of fun!

Microsoft actually didn’t write DOS, but bought qDOS (which stood for Quick & Dirty Operating System) from somebody and modified it slightly. This didn’t disappoint me at the time.

Soon I uncovered that Visual Basic was created by Alan Cooper initially and then sold to Microsoft. Microsoft PowerPoint was originally designed by Forethought Inc., which Microsoft bought for $14 million and had it become Microsoft’s Graphics Business Unit. The list goes on.

This was enlightening to me as an entrepreneur. Soon I would think of Microsoft, not as a software development company, but rather as an acquisition and marketing company.

In my eager and cocky youth, I crafted a letter to Bill Gates himself. I don’t remember the exact words, but the gist of it was that I was a cool techie, and that he should call me to discuss potential ideas.

Even though I followed-up with phone calls (and actually got his secretary live on the phone at one point), that path didn’t lead anywhere.

Over the next several years, I created new things with software. It was so rewarding to build something from scratch, and witness its positive impact on productivity and entertainment.

Then, the software industry started to change for me. I found myself, not building new things, but rather, fixing old things. My job because more of maintenance than of creation.

As the software landscape became more modular and compartmentalized, programming tasks became less about logic and reason. Instead, it is about interfacing with third-party software, debugging THEIR issues, networking hiccups, security and privacy.

Those things must be interesting to some people.

Was Bill Gates really an influential person in my life?

I thought he was. But that was mostly because of my love for Microsoft, which changed over the years.

The whole world changed, and I don’t like this new world. Technology isn’t about things being better anymore. It is about capitalization, designed obsolescence, and fashion.

In my opinion, systems and infrastructure around the world are buggier than ever before, with user-interfaces more kludgy and confusing than at any point in history. Similarly, customer service doesn’t provide very good customer service for anybody anymore (if they can get to a person), even though corporate offices have beautiful vision and mission statements sprinkled across their walls.

I still think Microsoft is a great company. Unlike Apple, at least Microsoft still provides decent accessibility support/features. Apple doesn’t care that inverse video also inverses photos/videos making everyone look like aliens!

What influences me more these days, is witnessing the innovative ideas of start-ups on Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank.

What Makes Me Angry

Hey [insert your name here]!!

I learned to rationalize that anger is not useful. It doesn’t help the situation. In fact, it often makes any situation worse.

That suppression has had its impact on me. I believe that this has been a variable in my depression.

My good friend, Peter, from many years ago, said that what I needed, was to express more anger.

Not much makes me angry. However, what gets me most frustrated and upset, is when I ask people what their name is, and they do not answer the question. Instead, they say things like:

“Don’t you remember me?”
“We’ve known each other for two years!”
“Guess…”
“Why can’t you remember who I am?”
“I’m the guy you met at that party.”
“My God, I just saw you two hours ago!”

I explain to people that I am legally blind and cannot recognize people. But that just seems to go right over many people’s head.

Some of them have gotten really upset. They think I’m being rude. They are insulted that it has been all of five times that we’ve met, and that I still can’t recognize who they are.

Other people expect me to recognize their voices. “Well, you must have super hearing,” they presume. Apparently, the media teaches that people who are blind have all their other senses heighted.

I don’t. In fact, I don’t think my hearing is even close to being perfect. For example, I’m tone deaf.

Also, as much as I love smelling women, it is socially unacceptable to get intimately close to every woman I meet. Need we discuss touch and taste?

And here is where it gets very complicated… Some try tell me their first name, but “Dave”, “Christina”, or even “Mohammed”, don’t help.

It’s the double-edge sword of being such a great networker. I know about 32 Dave’s (not including David’s), 25 Christina’s (not including spelling variations), and 10 Mohammed’s.

How do I recognize the people that I do? Some of them, I’ve known for many years and am familiar with their energies. Others have a very unique fashion sense or hairstyle which makes their appearance easily identifiable.

Most of the time, it’s not the optics of sight that sees, but the intelligence of a mind that knows (based on timing, memory, protocol, context, or other information).

The rest of the time, I’m guessing and using my intuition. Many times, my guesses are wrong. I apologize, but some people don’t accept my apology and continue to feel insulted.

I’ve heard through friends, that some people actually think I’m a fraud. They see me walking and being functional, and assume I am fully sighted, thinking that I lie about being blind. Once, a woman even thought I carried fake ID when I tried to prove my blindness to her through my blind ID card.

A few have tried to make justifications for these ignorant people. “They see you as being normal. That should be a compliment to you”.

For the first time that I tell them, yes, I understand that that is a compliment. But when it happens a second time with the same person, it means either they didn’t listen to me, they don’t believe me, or they have a hard time remembering important information. Here, I am forgiving.

My complaint is with those I have told numerous times, and they still don’t get it. More importantly, I believe they don’t want to get it.

And that’s what makes me upset the most.

What will it be like when I become a celebrity?

Let’s love the world together…

Love,
[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary