there's comfort in your eyes
How are you grounding yourself during these intense times? Where are you finding comfort?
For me, one of the most discomforting images in recent news has been all the people decked out in hazmat gear. I don’t have TV at home, but a few weeks ago, I caught a brief glimpse on a TV while out at a store of residents in China being forcibly removed from their apartments by people in full protective gear. This was before the coronavirus started to actively spread here in the US and in the rest of the world.
The image stuck with me, and I did a little soul searching around what it was that was most unsettling for me about it. Aside from being forced to do anything against your will (I’m sure there’s past life trauma, and maybe even present life trauma around this), the piece I isolated as being most disconcerting for me was that the gear hides people’s humanity. (I have a similar visceral reaction to images I see of police decked out in full gear and employing violent action/doing things to people against their will.)
Now, mind you, plenty of medical personnel wear their gear for obvious and necessary reasons and still treat the human beings in front of them with kindness and compassion. In the short clip I saw, however, that was not the case.
I’ve asked myself what I would do if I found myself in a situation where I was forcibly quarantined and surrounded by people in hazmat gear. (These kinds of questions surface in uncertain times like these.) What came to me was that I would look for somebody’s eyes. Beneath all the apparel, beneath the masks, the goggles, and all the protective gear, I would be able to connect to a pair of eyes that would assure me of their humanity, their kindness, their care.
On my way to work this morning, while stopped at a light, I turned my head and briefly caught the eyes of the man in the minivan next to me. He was an older(ish) Hispanic man. We held the eye contact for a moment. I probably gave him a brief smile. The moment didn’t last long, but the energy of it lingered with me. I wondered about the man and his life. I wondered about his circumstances. I wondered how the current situation might be affecting him economically. I wondered if he had kids at home, or grandkids, or even both. I wondered if he was worried or scared. I wondered who he was responsible for, and who was there to support him - if anyone.
Meeting his eyes, for even just a second or two, reminded me of our shared humanity. I hope it had a similar effect for him. I felt like he anchored in for a brief moment… like maybe he saw something solid there… something kind… something reassuring.
Earlier this week, I had another experience of eye contact that stayed with me. I pulled up at a light and turned briefly to my left. A car was in the lane right next to me with a young girl in the backseat. She looked at me, and she smiled. She couldn’t have been more than 6 years old. Her smile felt like a gift. I smiled back. And then it was awkward, because we remained at the light for another minute or so, and continuing to look at her in such close proximity felt like it would have been creepy, so I turned away, but I tucked her smile into my heart and carried it with me. I remember the sweetness in her eyes. I saw the Divine in her for a brief moment. I saw Grace in her.
A couple of days ago, I was at Whole Foods, stocking up on a few essentials. While waiting in line to pay, the person behind me touched my arm. It was a sweet little old lady. She wanted to know what one of the items was I was buying (a delicious cardamom mango lassi I recently discovered, by Dosa - so good!). She said the bottle looked so cute (it’s a small, cube-shaped bottle). Her eyes were big and bright and full of curiosity and life. I loved that she chose to interact with me. She didn’t have to. She could have kept a safe distance, given the current fear-infused climate and recommendation for social distancing (I prefer the term “social spacing” that somebody suggested), but she was not afraid to approach me and seek my attention to engage me. The energy of her eyes stayed with me after I walked away. Maybe she saw something in my eyes, too, that she could anchor into. Maybe she found some reassurance in our brief connection. I know I did.
Next time you are out in the world (if you dare venture out there), I invite you to find the eyes of a stranger and take a moment to connect. It doesn’t have to be long. It can be all of a second. Or maybe you’ll share a sentiment or two and linger a little longer. Either way, I encourage you to notice the effect it has on you when you meet a stranger’s eyes, and I invite you to offer kindness and Grace to another as you connect with him or her. You never know just how significant of an impact this one short moment may have on that person.
There is comfort in your eyes. Remember that.