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Prompted by Andrea Bocelli: Rather be Blind or Deaf?

The conversation arose because of an Andrea Bocelli DVD Mike and Melina bought me for Christmas. We stood in the kitchen where I had taken my computer, and together we watched and listened to this phenomenally talented man. I cried…because it was so beautiful. His voice, timing and nuance are remarkable; many say the best in the world. A handsome Italian man, as Andrea Bocelli sings, he usually has his eyes closed, and even when the camera closes in on his face and his eyes are open, it is obvious that his eyes are not focused. Andrea Bocelli is blind.

The son of Alessandro (died on April 30, 2000) and Edi Bocelli, Andrea Bocelli was born on September 22, 1958, in Lajatico, Tuscany, Italy, and grew up on the family farm. Having been born with congenital glaucoma, young Andrea had problems with his sight and became completely blind at age 12 after a soccer accident. Despite his misfortune, he showed a great talent for music and began taking piano lessons at age 6. He soon added the flute, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, guitar, harp, and drums to his list of musical abilities. Andrea also developed a love for opera at an early age and sang throughout his youth. By age 14, he had won his first song competition. He recalled, “I was one of those children who would always be asked to sing for my relatives. I don’t think one really decides to be a singer, other people decide it for you by their reactions.”

After completing his secondary education in 1980, Andrea attended the University of Pisa and later graduated as a Doctor of Law. He then worked as a court decreed lawyer for a year and used the money to pay for singing lessons with legendary tenor Franco Corelli. To make ends meet, he also performed evenings in piano bars and clubs.

Blind. And so began the talk among us: If we had to choose one, would we choose to be blind or to be deaf?

I’ve considered this question before, and talked about it more than once…and I always decide…I would rather be deaf than to be blind. I can’t imagine living in darkness, having difficulty finding my way, unable to drive a car, not able to hold a book and read, or type on my computer, then see the corresponding marks on its bright screen.

“Not I,” Michael said. “Think about it. If you were deaf, you could never hear music like this, never hear your loved ones’ voices…”

“True…” I granted. And I thought long about being denied the pleasure of beautiful music…and it was terrible to contemplate.

Awful discussion. There is no satisfactory answer, for we who are so fortunate as to possess normal hearing and sight find it difficult to imagine life if either of those important senses were to be taken from us.

And you? If you must choose, would you  lose your sight, or would it be your hearing? Which seems more important to you?