With age comes new sight, new allowance. For instance, you’ll be somewhere sitting and soon enough notice the two people at a table just ahead of you. You’ll pick up on them being a not-yet-couple. Being, in the heat of the moment, no less than two bodies, two minds, yearning to match. They appear generally new to each other. You’ll see their shy enthusiasm as an obvious indication that they are young and beautiful and not yet taking one another for granted. Right now they are like two seeds, buds that have not yet peeled open and offered themselves into the prism of light.
What might there be between us? Their body language seems to ask. Right now their every move is made in the effort of discovery. They expect nothing from one another yet.
You get all this immediately because you’ve noticed their shimmering reluctancy to go all in with each other. It’s that sweet flirtation which our egos get buff on and our hearts drop into complete presence with. How they are sitting together is a detail so brave. They are coy and propped up on stools. Their bodies, swung around and bending in on each other. These two people have completely fallen out of time. You can tell that this is what makes them so attractive, so appealing and appropriate a match. In this moment, they are all that exist. You see them in all their pureness. And you can see this, you can see this purely, because you are not judging. God, you’ve come a long way.
You see that they are a rush of adrenaline, that it’s as if their hearts have chosen to be animated rather than downplay everything and tiptoe about. Nothing about their behavior though seems to be a disguise. Nothing is wound up in sexual tension overcompensating for itself but rather is an effect of their happy anticipation for each other. They, too, have come a long way. Your overall fascination with love, with possibility, has you rooting for this pair. You are not envious. Bitter. You are not annoyed by their chatter and laughter.
You are not even pitying their worship. You treasure that this level of interaction exists. That no matter how many statistics come out about couples leaving each other, there are still those who won’t let other people’s histories or their own devastating, baffling tales get in the way of finding someone to show up for. These people are heroic. This is why you are not looking away. Because you can let others be happy, be interesting, be closer to romance than you. Because you don’t just want this for yourself.
You want happiness and interest and closeness for everyone. Everyone deserves to be looked at and admired. Everyone deserves the space to look out and admire too. Even, and especially, you. Because this is just not something you would have done in your youth. Not when curiosity was an appearance so shamefully invested in otherness. Not when admiration was an instinct both warned against and reserved for the stars. This is really the only thing pathetic about youth. It was a time when you were raised not to look, not to let your attention drift and move outside yourself.
It was a time when emerging adults were punished if their focus was drawn anywhere beyond what they had, what they knew, and who they already are. Consequentially, curiosity felt more like a temptation to be managed. And so, most of your youthful concentration was spent managing this, managing your own sense of appreciation. No one can blame you. Even your own empathy had to be concealed. Back then, even emotions were unappealing and unacceptable. But it’s silly, you think. It’s silly that the young never want to be caught looking at someone and admiring. Silly that it would ever be humiliating to be noticed for who you are and for who you are not.
Fortunately, though, you’ve aged and what matters to your heart has come pounding through. You let it. You let your eyes drift. You let other people, strangers and couples, hold your attention. Curiosity has become a common companion of yours. Now that you are older and no one can punish you but yourself, you use your gaze to enlighten you.
Age affords you this freedom. It awards you sight. And to see differently is, in a word, a privilege. For instance, it is a privilege that you no longer fight for or against love but certainly can see it happening.
It is a privilege that you remain open to the pureness in things, in people and their potential for finding their way into love over coffee and while sitting up on bar stools. It is a privilege that you can see happiness, even where it does not directly involve you. Even when you are alone and sitting solo. It is a privilege that you are able to watch what others would rather miss. You are able to witness a new couple come into each other’s lives. All because you allow yourself to watch, to see what others are creating and what you too are hoping for. If you keep looking, you will never miss out on the world.
Your appreciation is simple. Your acceptance is extraordinary. Keep living like this and someday someone will want to watch you. And if they are like you, if they have grown up, they will let themselves see you and admire the way you have shown up completely. They will see that it’s an effort and a privilege to fall completely out of time, to fall completely out of judgment. They will see how you are living and will feel inspired by you.