I sometimes use nature scenes or other related images in the space above, but today I wanted to do something different. It’s a photo of me, and it’s probably large enough to where you can look into my eyes. I invite you to look into my soul, and if you were with me in person, I, too, would look into yours. To get to know you better. To listen to what you have to say more intently. To understand you more deeply.
For some reason, this morning at the gym after I did my two-mile jog, I decided to hang around a while to people-watch. (I like being at the gym for motivation – being surrounded by like-minded people is motivating because I absorb some of their energy!) I normally get in and out, though, and avoid eye contact because, well, I don’t know why. That’s when I decided to try an experiment.
I wanted to see what would happen if I could engage complete strangers with eye contact. Not the flirtatious type, not the stalking-crazy type, but simply a warm glance and smile telling the other person that I’m happy today and I’d like to share some of the light I’m feeling.
I’m sorry to report that very few, if anyone, looked back at me. People looked down, or around, or found something to fidget with when we passed each other. I noticed that it is only when you’re cornered by a door jam or a water fountain that there’s a reason to break the separateness. A reason to establish some form of communication.
It made me sad. It made me think about why I have spent all these years avoiding eye contact with people. Why do we walk around separating ourselves from everyone else? To somehow protect ourselves from getting too close? So we don’t give people the “wrong” idea? To not seem weird? Why have we trained ourselves that it’s expected to withhold a kind smile which would otherwise lift someone’s spirit and thereby lift our own?
I’ve decided today that I’m not doing that anymore. I am now going to walk around with my head lifted, and engage strangers with my eyes and my smile.
And if I run into you on the streets or at the gym, I hope you will look back into my eyes and into my soul, so we can share a little happiness.