Windows to the Soul
BY CAROLE SAWO
“I hate it when you do that”, he said holding up his hand and wincing away. “Do what?”, I asked. “Look at me”, he replied.
The eyes really do have it – they are the windows to the soul. In there, nothing can hide. Yesterday I looked into the eyes of a very old lady who had fallen over in front of me. As I picked her up in her eyes I saw fear, confusion, embarrassment, and then relief when I smiled back. Later I looked at the blood she had left behind on my sleeve. In that moment I saw trust at the deepest level. When we are so vulnerable, as babies, as adults, what we hope for, desperately need, is the returned gaze of love.
‘Looking’ is a huge topic in child psychology. Before words we search anxiously into the eyes of our parents, hoping to see evidence that we are doing OK. Sadly, many babies, children, and adolescents are not even looked at by the people they need the most validation from. Adults, caught up in the busyness of life, often don’t look at those they are in emotional relationships with at all, or glance with harsh eyes and scowling faces. And then they wonder what goes wrong?
It’s interesting to see who wants to, is willing to, or even can, make eye contact. In everyday communication, it’s considered rude, invasive even, to stare too deeply into the eyes of someone we have no emotional connection with. Generally, we look at the forehead, flicker eyes back and forth, or look at the object under discussion. Some people can only communicate in this way, even, and sometimes, especially with the ones they love. Through the eyes, we connect, linger, feel deeply – or are dismissed.
When I look into the eyes of strangers, I often see confinement, withholding, and hiding. The choked back tears of years of suffering. In their eyes I see their pain. Their searching for acceptance. Often, to save someone the anxiety, I take my gaze away, at least until they have realised they are in the company of someone they can trust. When I look into the eyes of friends, with whom I’m already privy to inner sanctum information, I see warmth, empathy, connection, and playfulness.
My analytical eyes, really, are not just for observations of biographies, they are mirrors – hence the gentleman’s repulsion to look into them. In my eyes, he ran the risk of seeing himself. And not just any part, the part he didn’t want to look at – the contents of his shadow. That often foreignest part of all. And certainly, he didn’t want me to see that either.
Occasionally, when I’m least expecting it, in the eyes of an apparently random passer-by I see the sparkle of something else. A much higher spiritual humour, just popped in to the material realm to lighten the load. The eyes that see my entire existence, looking at me with loving adoration. And in those eyes, in that moment, I know that everything is going to be OK.