Last week, while leaving work, I was so happy to be heading home in time to put my son to bed and that the sun was shining still and that the project was finally coming together that I was beaming. And I passed an older man walking in the opposite direction, and our eyes met and he caught the full force of my smile. It stopped him dead in his tracks, which made me chuckle, and while I didn’t entirely stop, we exchanged a few pleasant words.
More often than not, I make it a rule to not make eye contact on the street. Head a little down, or eyes up and constantly scanning for potential danger even while feigning nonchalance or a thoughtful, preoccupied look. Closed up, unwilling to commit to anything more than a mumbled “hi” or half smile in passing. So it was a strange situation for me. And, obviously, this man was unused to such a connection happening either. But it brightened both of our days.
It’s funny how closed off and protective we are as a culture. And this is how we’re trained to be. The boogeymen of our nightmares exist in reality, and society plays up those fears. But without that connection happening, then we just shut ourselves off more and more, growing further isolated into ourselves, unable to then even connect with our loved ones. Being able to connect physically and mentally is really important, even if there is an element of risk involved. Something for me to think about for a while.