“Mommy, look!” – my daughter is swinging on the house swing. “Uhm …” – I answer her from above my computer. “You are not looking! Look! “- insists my child, shamelessly demanding attention.
A little girl in a playground, approaches adults, immersed in their cell phones, newspapers, and books. She moves closer and leans until she catches eye contact. Then, she smiles broadly, heartily – as if the sun suddenly poured in through a window into a dark room. And then, she moves on, towards the next person.
One of our most basic human needs.
When did we forget about it? At what point did we banish it? When did we consider it shameful, not worth it, what’s the point?
Some of us have learned that they can only be seen when they throw a tantrum. An unmet need arises like a surging sea, like a tsunami, and then spills out, spectacularly sinking the landscape. And then, steady, steady, it retreats, and we live on as if nothing had happened.
Others have learnt that they are only seen, when they shine, when they are great, joyful, and wonderful. And so they are. As much as they can. Only to leave the stage and, away from the lights, alone, sink into their fears and despairs. Just like in the days, when they were sent away to their rooms – come back when you understand. What exactly? Nobody knows.
Behind a wall of shame
“He’s just seeking attention!”, “Do not carry him, or he’ll get used to it,” “She must know her place.”, “What a show off!”. Our young hearts numbed, fed with these messages. And the need to be seen and heard, pressed into a dark corner, became obstructed with a mighty wall of shame.
“She just looks at people like that” – I heard a friend’s comment once. I felt ashamed. Maybe it’s embarrassing for others? Maybe too intimate? And yet…
I see you
I see you, my daughter. I see you, my son. I see you, my friend.
I also see you, the conductor on the train, checking my ticket. I see you, the man taking my garbage. I see you, postman. I see you, the girl preparing my morning coffee.
In this fleeting meeting of our eyes, I see my reflection. I am seen. I am.
And how is for you to be seen? Do you know what it’s like, really? Do you know what it’s like to really see someone?