|From MY ART|
So I wanted to talk about this experience I had yesterday and how it inspired me to write about it, perhaps in the form of a short story. The event took place as I was walking back home after a long day of work at my university. I have been lately stagnating with regards to life, although I have a hunch that it only appears that way from this narrow point of view. Still, I felt stressed out and walked with my shoulders bunched up and tight. The time was around six thirty, or thereabouts, and night had not yet descended. Spring really is a wonderfully refreshing and revitalizing time of year. It wasn’t too cold either, so my jacket was open and a soft breeze was playing with my skin. As I passed a park, I stopped to observe the hesitant first buds of April, sunk in a glowing wreath of the greenest leaves. I continued on with somewhat of a hopeful feeling – the cycle does eventually return us to the stage of rebirth. I had developed a habit, in the past couple of months, of looking at people straight in the face as I walked past them on the way to and from my university. It started as a sort of experiment; a quenching of a flame of curiosity, I might call it. You see, I had noticed something a bit peculiar about the social habits of our species. I had realized that people seem to impulsively avoid eye-contact at all times and in particular foreign eyes contacting them. So I decided to push this wall and see if it wobbles a bit, and if it does to see if I can get it to wobble a little more and then a little more and then perhaps see if I can bring it down. But this experiment turned into something different, because what I poured onto that initial flame did not quench it all but fueled it onwards and onwards, until it turned into the much larger and more consuming flame of fascination. In short, I made a game out of it: trying to guess what was going on in every person’s busy little minds and hearts as we intersected on this tiny little patch of dirt. Ohh! She must be going through a rough patch…thought I as I passed a woman with sad little eyes. Oh, this guy is under a lot of stress…as I caught sight of a man fervently attempting to sever the connection between his fingernail and his finger with the help of his teeth. Come to think of it, most of the expressions I have seen seem to indicate stress, anxiety, or depression in some form or another. That’s a strange thing, isn’t it? Would you call me a pessimist? Or, maybe I’m just living in the wrong city. Who knows such things? Another weird thing that happens when eye-contact is established is that both parties will seem to feel a strong impulse to turn away immediately. And, so in resisting this urge by maintaining my gaze, I warrant a second glance from my unsuspecting victim, whose face shows a much more composed and secure expression than it did the first time I saw it. So, back to my story: as I walked home amidst the buds and the breeze, something extraordinary happened. I was contenting myself to my sport of reading the expressions people displayed on their faces when I passed by a generic-looking university girl with a stack of books in her arms and her jacket tied to her hips. As I looked into her eyes for the first time, I felt the heaviness of the burden she carries in her arms. There was an exasperated look painted on her face by the brush of her heart. Then, with that impulsive reflex swing of the eyeballs in my direction that almost always happens when I look at someone’s face, eye-contact was established. But this was eye-contact of a very different sort than that with which I am familiar. There was no hardening of the clay or glazing of the paint. There was no veil to be thrown over the heart which only wishes to express, as there always is. Here, I witnessed something beautiful; I saw a woman in all her graceful nakedness of being. All the masks dropped in one instant, revealing something so simple and natural. In that instant, I was no longer looking into her eyes; I was looking into myself. The physical correlate of all this abstract talk may seem trivial: her eyes relaxed to their least tense position, her shoulders relaxed – actually I am finding it hard to find more of these by which to quantify my experience. It is precisely because the experience was so ethereal that this task is so difficult. And it was so short, too. Only an instant. Less than an instant. It was impossibly short, but I do not doubt it took place. I felt like I had been let in for once, rather than always being kicked out by people’s eyes. It’s amazing what a simple moment of true connection can do, no matter how fleeting or infinitesimal the time frame. After that experience, my day seemed to light up, and a tiny fraction of my burden was lifted out of my arms. I remembered an important lesson I had learned a while back and then forgotten all about: that there is always still hope, no matter how dire the situation, and that the seasons are in constant motion, so just go with the flow. It is only by the act of life that we drag our chains behind us, and by the very same act do we shed them. All it takes is one moment of truth.