Blind, deaf… and pretty dumb: Failing (and feeling) your way to success

Whenever my extended family gets together you can usually count on three things: a lot of boxed wine, a lot of Euchre and a lot of jackassery. Our Easter celebration this past weekend delivered on all three counts.

For this get-together I didn’t shoot fireworks at my cousins, play a violent game of Red Rover or play soccer with a giant 4-foot inflatable ball. Instead, I got to participate in an activity that my Van Osch cousins came up with: something they like to call the Blindfold Game.

The way it works is each participant puts in earplugs and then puts on headphones with music blaring from their iPod or phone. You are then blindfolded using toques and scarves. The result is that you can’t hear anything going on around you or see a thing.

After we were all satisfactorily deaf and blind, the seven of us participating were loaded into the back of a truck. Our driver then took us on a very confusing trip; driving in circles and zig-zagging while we flopped and bounced around in the back.

Getting ready to go. I'm on the left with the yellow toque.

When we were all sufficiently disoriented (and nauseated), the truck came to a stop in the middle of some farmer’s field. They hauled us out of the back, spun us around in circles and left us to find our way to the hot tub next to the house.

Beyond knowing that I was somewhere in one of the back fields, I was completely lost. My blindfold was so thick that I couldn’t even see daylight through it, meaning I couldn’t locate the setting sun to help orient me. And as my cousin Tess’ playlist of indie-hipster-girly-girl music blared in my ears, I couldn’t hear the sound of the highway which would have helped immensely.

The one thing I did remember was that the wind was blowing from the northwest. Armed with that knowledge, I was sure to keep the breeze on my left-side so I could make my way roughly east toward the house. Otherwise I’d have probably walked into the lake.

With only the vaguest sense of where “home” lay, I started walking, my arms outstretched in front of me. I paused often to feel the ground to see what I was walking on and to reorient myself with the breeze.

Blindfold Game: equal parts exhilaration and disorientation.

Spotters were set up to prevent us from wandering onto Highway 21 or from injuring ourselves in any sort of fatal way. Of course, that didn’t mean they stopped us from getting hurt at all. Where would be the fun in that?

For example, they certainly had no qualms about letting me walk into a barbwire fence. Feeling my way along it I soon after grabbed an electric fence. Fortunately it was turned off. I also ran face first into a tree and cracked my mouth on the back of a bench while bending down to feel the ground. That last one hurt the most but it also caused the most excitement because I finally knew for sure where I was on the property.

After a few more wrong turns and another couple run-ins with trees, I finally reached the hot tub and got to remove my blindfold. I was the fourth to arrive and just happy to have made it at all.

I got to watch the other three participants still trying to find their way and it was good to see I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time.

Mikey fell in my grandma’s fish pond… Three times.

Ben wandered the furthest off track and seemed to spend the bulk of his time tangled up in painfully thorny rosebushes.

Poor Ben. Stuck in a rosebush... again.

Mark seemed intent on going to the highway and had to be turned away a few times by the spotters. He eventually found his way but only after walking in a giant circle (twice) and trampling grandma’s tulips.

Mark: trying to get himself run over on the highway and to destroy all of Grandma's flowers.

Moral of the story

I know in my life I’ve often wrestled with which direction to take and if I was going the “right” way. And like the Blindfold Game, the right direction may not be clear at all. But as scary and uncertain as the path ahead of you might seem, the important thing is to choose a direction and go. Because standing still in the middle of a farmer’s field isn’t going to get you to where you want to be.

And yes, the path you choose may be going the wrong way. And yes, you may run into a barbed wire fence or fall into a fish pond. But look at it this way: sometimes smacking your face into a tree helps you figure out where you are and what direction you should try next. Don’t be afraid to bump into things: use them as guideposts on your way to success.

As Thomas Edison said: “I failed my way to success.” And I’m happy to say I failed my way to the hot tub and a tasty Easter dinner.

Got a lesson you learned from one of life’s absurd moments that you want to share? Click here to submit your story.


Funny stories. Good advice. Check out my books, “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” and “Balancing Priorities and Prioritizing Balance”. Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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2 Responses to Blind, deaf… and pretty dumb: Failing (and feeling) your way to success

  1. Rob Shirkey says:

    Nice post. Reminds me of something I recently heard someone say: “There is no such thing as failure, there is only feedback.”

  2. I heart the Van Oschs! says:

    Great post, Joshy! Glad to see you survived.

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