Meeting Eyes

This may sound simplistic, but I try to make a conscious practice of meeting strangers’ eyes as I pass them on the street or in a hall or store or other public places. I spend most of my time in an urban area, where people are passing by each other all day and most are strangers to each other. I try to keep an openness and receptivity in my own face and eyes. If someone meets my eyes in return, I acknowledge them in some way that seems appropriate to their manner or the situation, a small smile, a nod, or sometimes just the direct and open gaze from one person to the other. Sometimes I’ve passed someone and looked and it’s seemed they’ve been crying recently. Sometimes I can see that someone is very tired. I say a silent prayer for someone who seems to be in difficulty. Many people meet my eyes. Many don’t.

I think it’s important that people are seen. I think often people are projected onto because of their appearance, their race, their clothes, their age. When we go through our day, we often don’t really see each other and aren’t aware of the fears or judgements that pass through us as a person passes by. But you can pass people instead with a certain wonder, “Who are you?” And an acceptance, “You and I both happen to be here,” If you listen to yourself, you may hear your fears and judgements with honesty, and you can treat those with wonder, too, and say to them, “What are you about, anyway? Did I need you once? Do I need you still? Do you really protect me? Does the person I’m passing feel that from me?”

In this acceptance and wonder, it is my hope, that the person I pass can feel seen.


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