Op Ed with Bob Branco – The Moby Dick Marathon

During the first weekend after New Year’s Day, Moby Dick, the famous novel by Herman Melville, is read in its entirety at the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The reading lasts approximately 25 hours, while dozens of volunteers read different sections of the book. Anyone can sign up to participate in this marathon, including city councilors, the Mayor, business executives, police officers, and anyone else who wants to read aloud before an audience.

Last year, I was asked to read a portion of Moby Dick at the 2013 Marathon. I gladly accepted the offer, and became the first blind person ever to participate. I read part of Chapter 10 in front of a podium, using a braille copy of Moby Dick that was obtained for me. I felt honored that city officials asked me to be part of this annual community event. Though I was the first blind person to get involved, I was satisfied just to be there at all, and not because of my blindness.

Yesterday, I read at the Moby Dick marathon once again, and the experience was just as rewarding.

As I left the Whaling Museum yesterday, I was stopped by a newspaper reporter who asked me many questions about blindness and braille. Although this reporter was there to cover the Marathon, he immediately changed his focus with me when he discovered that I am blind. This does not surprise me. Whether we like it or not, we make sighted people curious.

I hope that my experience as a blind person contributing to a municipal event will inspire other blind people to get involved with their own community. I know that some of you already do that, but there may be others who need a little incentive.

Your thoughts are welcome in the Reader’s Forum.

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