Friday, March 6, 2009


In 1966 as a sixth grader at the Horace Belden school in Simsbury, Connecticut I was in my first motion picture role. Steve Szedlak was the teacher in this class and that year was his first year as a teacher. Steve had a long teaching career and eventually was a principal in the Simsbury school system. I met Steve's father as he was a frequent guest at the Soundings motel in Dennis Port on Cape Cod where I have had a long association.

Mr. Szedlak (Steve) had a film based movie camera back then; the type of camera that you needed a movie projector to watch the film after the film was developed. Steve had our class re-enact the famous story of "The Blind Men and the Elephant".

I can remember being dressed in a big white bed sheet with a cane and walking across the Belden stage where this movie was filmed and being led to the large picture of an elephant that our class had made for this film. My part in the movie was to feel the elephant's leg and say "I see, said the blind man, an elephant is like a tree."

Ohter fellow classmate "blind men" actors touched the elephant's trunk which is like a snake, ear which is like a fan, tusk is like a spear,side is like a wall,tail is like a rope, etc. At the end of the movie we all pushed and argued with each other while claiming that we were "right" and all the other blind men were wrong.

"The Blind Men and the Elephant" has a long history with one of the most popular versions being a 19th century poem by John Godfrey Saxe. This story is said to originate in India and there are versions of this tale in Buddhism, Jainism, Sufism, and Hinduism.

Although none of the blind men could "see"; they each developed an opinion on their limited exposure to the elephant and all the blind men thought that their experience was the correct description of an elephant. Although in a sense all of the blind men were correct; none of them could see the whole elephant so all the blind men were in fact wrong in experiencing the total elephant.

Each of us in this world are bound by our perceptions and life experiences. Like the blind men and the elephant, many of us are blind to the true and complete nature of reality due to our unique and limited perceptions and opinions.