What is with the eyes? We just can't look into them and if we do, we like our glances to be fleeting as can be. Last Sunday morning in Paris I went out to watch the city wake, walking with the sun on my face. I walked past a father walking his toddler, I smile. The man looks away.
We’re a funny breed us humans. We have these eyes and yet we so rarely use. We have social norms and social ways we accept and we don't do much to dissway them. Walking in the streets of Paris or London one experiences the same phenomenon: we pass, but we do not see one another. Nor do we allow ourselves to be seen. A simple look speaks a thousand words. Yet how often do we take the time to look in the eyes of people coming our way?
Personally, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. And those times I don't its mostly because I am too busy, preoccupied, – or can’t even see the point. But occasionally, moments arise, when the good mood has landed, the sun may be shining, my body is relaxed and I find myself following that compulsion to look another in the eyes and smile.
A conversation amongst aliens: those humans, yes, they aren’t half alien to each other, yes, hmmm.
Recently as I make efforts to look more people in the eye, sweet moment of humanity happen and they encourage me to keep on looking. Because a lot of the time I walk on by and life's too short, too sweet to carry on with that shoddery.
I see a trio of beautiful women walking towards me and my entire being crystallises in looking really really busy and preoccupied. I see a drunk walking towards me and look at my phone; I see a handsome man walking towards me and pretend I don't even see him at all. But occasionally eyes look up and take on a life of their own and go oh screw this craziness I is gonna do, what I am here to do: look and see and be seen and that's all. Except its not all, because there is so much more. You are not left with nothing, you are touched by something: a whisper of a connection with a member of your human family.
The other evening I walk past a lady and think screw this I am gonna smile and so I look up at her and she is just about to look away and then she looks back, I swear it was surprise that she looked back and we smile at each other and see each others eyes and that's kind of healing. In that for that moment in time, two pairs of eyes looked and saw and were seen and then they went on. As I reach the door of my boyfriend I look over my shoulder to see the woman and she's looking back too as she pulls away her bike. Two women looking at one another, enjoying eye contact. There is something encouraging about that. Sometimes we are not the only ones longing for more connection.
Because here’s the thing: when we make eye contact with another, these things linger. Connections remain, softly oscillating around the cells of our body, saying keep on looking, keep on smiling, that's what our eyes gotta do.
The benefits of parenthood:
One of the delights of hanging out with my daughter has been meeting people on the streets. People open up and relax when it’s a kid saying hello, there's less threat. Less risk in looking stupid. Sometimes they'll even stop and engage in banter, “Hello! What’s your name?” And I know I have been saying oh this is totally for my daughter as I stand there and say hello, but really well, I like people too. And it makes such a difference to be able to turn to people and say hello! And some people may be damn confronting to look into the eyes of – whether it is that trio of beautiful women, the drunk meandering towards you, or a group of teenagers storming on by - but through the mask, look we see two little globes and in them, the world.
LFraser is sprouting! Please share this with friends whose eyes you like to look into, smile at, growl at, laugh with - no words needed at all.