Learning what's really important on the climb

Imagine climbing Mount Everest. Now imagine climbing it, only you’re blind. Blindsight is the story of six Tibetan teenagers being led on a climbing expedition to Lhakpa Ri, a 23,000-foot peak on the north side of Mount Everest. It’s the story of the climb, and the experiences and discoveries that the climbers make along the way.

This was an awesome, understated, awe-inspiring movie. It didn’t make me cheer and it didn’t make me cry, but it moved me in ways that few movies do. There were times that I wanted to jump into some of the arguments that the characters were having, times that I wanted to help, and moments when I felt the truth of what the characters were saying, and I had to remind myself, this is real. A real person is saying this. A real person is doing this. They don’t have a staff of 100 people, two stuntmen, a video toaster and the London Symphony Orchestra to inspire me. These people and their dignity and their hearts are doing it.

Lisa Felperin of Variety magazine said that the movie was “Deceptively complex… a compelling study in culture clash, with spectacular scenery to boot.” I agree with her to a point. The movie was a study in culture clash, but I didn’t think it was a clash of east versus west, as much as it was between nurturers and achievers. As a former athlete and type A personality, I know what it’s like to give an arm, a leg, a spleen, and a piece of your heart to try to get something done, whether it’s straight A’s, a certain time in the half mile, or a standard of behavior that you have to live up to. As my life has gone on, I’ve found that there’s more to life than what we achieve, and if we don’t appreciate our lives along the way, we achieve a big, shiny nothing. There’s nothing wrong with achieving, but do it with soul.

Sabriye Tenberken

Sabriye Tenberken

By the time the movie was done, I admired the hell out of Sabriye Tenberken, founder of Braille Without Borders, and leader of the school for the blind in Tibet where the students come from. Her passion for the students and the experience she was trying to give them reaches out of the screen and it feels like she’s sitting there talking to you. She has the heart of a lion. Erik Weihenmayer, world-class climber, went through some transformation of his own, and of course the children learned a great deal about themselves too.


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