Just get it!


Contributing Editor
Walt Pickut

Everybody thinks we have five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.

Unfortunately, those five senses are not enough–not for a successful, satisfying life. All they tell you is that some part of your body has met a natural phenomenon. The senses are just chemical, mechanical, or electrical reactions—bits of nature reacting to other bits of nature.

Nothing happens until the message gets to your brain and you find out that those sensations mean something. A chemical called “butyl mercaptan,” for example, hitting the scent receptors in your nose is meaningless until you “get it:” SKUNK!

Million-year-old photons that traveled across the universe to hit your eye mean nothing until your brain interprets them and you get it as something scientific, or when they help a sailor navigate across the sea, or even when your heart sings to you “When you wish upon a star.”
Your five senses do little until you “get it.” Does that seem too simple or to obscure? Well, here’s my point:

Some people can get it even if they don’t have all five senses.

Got it? People for whom one or more senses are weak, or missing altogether, are still fully human and real—not less. In fact, they may have learned how to interpret their remaining senses in ways beyond most of our imaginations, almost like a superpower.

That’s why this week the Jamestown Gazette invites you to take part in celebrating the Chautauqua Blind Association’s Centennial year—marking 100 years of service to the visually impaired residents of the Southern Tier. The CBA’s executive director, Joni Blackman, brings us their meaning and their message in this week’s cover story.

Possibly the most famous spokesperson for the blind, Helen Keller, lost both her sight and hearing after a serious illness at the age of nineteen months. Yet she became an author, lecturer, and worldwide inspiration to many. “There is no better way to thank God for your sight,” she said, “than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.”

Helen got it. “Blindness is an unfortunate handicap,” she once said, “but true vision does not require the eyes…The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

So, if there is any inspiration, any insight, we can gain by joining CBA in this centennial celebration, maybe it is to realize that there have been, and still are, many people in our community who get it—they have the vision to assist those whose minds and spirits can see what their eyes might not.

Celebrating, at its best, is partnering. Assist where you can through CBA’s Centennial Auction or by volunteering your service. Don’t just “help.” That’s noble, but help is for the helpless. The Blind Association assists the able. Don’t be blind to the abilities of those who are.

CBA’s mission is to enable visually impaired people to be active members of their community and to provide education and services to prevent vision loss.

They want to share their vision with you. Enjoy the opportunity, and while you’re at it, accept our invitation to enjoy the read right here in the Jamestown Gazette.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.