On Being Seen

Photo by  Daniil Kuželev  on  Unsplash
We all want to be seen, we all want to know that we matter. And the most you can ever do for somebody is to show up and allow them to know that they have been seen and heard by you.
— Oprah from The Wisdom of Sunday's

The other day when checking out at the grocery store, making small talk I mentioned to the clerk that I worked from home. She asked what I did and when I said I was a life coach her face brightened and she looked directly at me. She said she wanted to write children's books. There was no hesitation. She went on to say she was taking classes, learning everything she could. She was resolute. I said keep writing, then write some more and thanked her for the books that will surely be coming. This exchange took all of two minutes. When I took my bags I felt lighter and more connected. How often do we allow transactions to be merely transactional? What if they could be so much more? Because they can. All we have to do is be open to them.

It is easy, even commonplace to be annoyed at all the anonymous people ahead of you. Which implies you are behind somehow. Behind them. Behind schedule. They are in the way instead of with you in a shared experience.

Do you remember this short film that brought David Foster Wallace's beautiful 'This is Water' piece to life? 

Now I want to make sure that every day I connect with someone new in some way. Perhaps I learn their name and something about them? Perhaps it is something else. The intention is deeper connection. Discovering that my desire for a sense of community is less about finding one and more about building one person by person. We are all connected in our humanness and taking a moment to stop and really see one another is just one way to experience it.

'Tis the season. The season to run around preparing, purchasing, trying to get it all done in time. Heads down focused on the tasks at hand. Eyes on the phones clutched in those same hands. Our phones allow us feel connected to all the things and all the people all the time. Lately though I've been thinking more and more about the people around me. The people in my periphery when my attention is elsewhere and with whom I am not obviously connected and yet aren't we though?

What might you discover about another human being today? A name? A dream yet to be realized? Their eye color? A book that made them laugh out loud? Donating our time is a wonderful way to give of ourselves yet know that making a difference in someone's life does not require you add anything to your swollen calendar. All that is required is looking up and being curious. 

If you take an extra moment to notice the eye color of the person across from you whether they are taking your coffee order or sitting at your table it is like a concentrated dose of being seen. It feels electric because seeing eye to eye creates a powerful connection. Even in our most intimate relations we can forget to look closely. To really see. To bear witness to them in our rush. We are rushing to start or finish and yet there is something else available. And it only takes a moment.

How might you open for more connection in your day?