I’ve learned that seeing people is an art. It requires constant, casual conscientiousness. Looking at them is innate; every time we see something in our line of vision or hear a noise around us, we turn to look, but only at certain times do we actually see the other person.
Sometimes we see instead a blur within a crowd. We see a stranger, a structure of bones, wrapped in a shade of cream, dark or light, features we see in ourselves, but arranged and designed differently.
Sometimes we even see a complete reflection of ourselves. We unintentionally project our feelings on them, wondering if they’re experiencing similar phenomena, thinking nothing of their actual lives, but only of our own.
Sometimes we recall labels that have been shoved upon us since we were young, and we preconceive this other person according to the stereotype we’ve been taught about.
But sometimes, sometimes we look harder, and we see human emotions and vulnerability. Not actions, not attitude, not attire, not intelligence, just emotions.
We see small smiles, friendly attempts at connecting, and if we take the time to see them, we return them. We see calloused hands and feel the work that has been accomplished with them. This instills in us a respect. We see a family to feed, a life of hardships that have been overcome, and eyes that still have hope.
And maybe we aren’t always right in our imaginings, but how beautiful it is to think of the work, of the love, of the hope, rather than the surface level ruggedness or obvious downheartedness.
To think maybe they have a good reason for this, and they just need a smile back, just need a nod of encouragement, just need someone to say, “Good morning,” and not turn their noses up for once.
How wonderful it can be to see people and want to give them something, something they are missing. No matter if they are five years old, 55 years old, or 105 years old, they deserve a clean slate, at least in your mind. Their past is already trailing them, consuming their futures, weighing heavy at night, and they certainly don’t need another imperfect human trying to spread more darkness inside them.
Most of all I’ve learned that seeing people requires finding your own source of light. This way you can shine it in the darkest places and make something glimmer inside everyone.