I think the world is blind sometimes. Truly. We live and work and shift in and around one another constantly, but how often can we actually say that we, “see” people? Not often enough is my perception. Children’s book author Dodie Smith once said, “I like seeing people when they can’t see me.” And I would argue that most often, that is the case because not many bother to look. This isn’t a slam or a tirade, just an observation of the sightlessness of society. I’m certainly a part of this – of overlooking, or simply looking past that which I don’t always take the time to notice. But then there’s sometimes … and I am a better me when I am looking then.
When I’m really observant, I see him. A man shuffling his way down the street, bent in half with the weight of years sagging down his once-strong shoulders. He is a time capsule, living history … but with no one to tell his stories to, he’s simply lost in an age that forgets his value.
When I take the time to notice, I see her. A woman sitting alone at a cafe table filled with empty places. Guests filter in and fill the tight space with the friends and lovers they brought along, and one by one they ask her if they can borrow a seat. She smiles tightly, a new intensity focused on her newspaper, as she perpetually loses chairs from a table she wishes was full.
When I scan the noise I see him. A boy, inking letters onto his forearm during class, marking himself with words and symbols the world expects to see. He bears true the reality that people will always live down to your expectations, and since no one ever takes the time to set the bar higher for him – he’s got nowhere to try to climb.
When I watch the chaos I see her. She is the only thing still. Beautiful like a chameleon, she camouflages herself into the fade of background noise. She glances with tired eyes at the overly-enthusiastic masks around her, wishing she was a better actress so that she could pretend to fit in … but she’s too different. A butterfly among moths doesn’t change the fact that she’s the outlier, no matter how lovely her wings.
And I wish that everyone saw them. I wish most of all that there were something to say. Norwegian poet and novelist Tarjei Vesaas said, “Almost nothing need be said when you have eyes.” But I think I’d amend it to say, “When you have eyes that are open.”
What we see may not change what is … but it just may incite a prayer, a conversation, or the smile that says, “Carry on gentle spirit, until we see one another again.”
Take it in. Look around you. And please, see people.