It’s all in The Look

I had an epiphany the other day. You know, the moment of enlightenment when the light bulb flashes bright dots of knowing there is bright 150 watt light, singing alleluias (or in my case rock ‘n roll); it jolted me from my everyday languidness of inertia to a full wide-awake state of aliveness; and it coddled me proving that I am treasured, valued, respected, and a worthwhile human being. What happened? I was in an elevator when a man, a gentleman, entered, said hello and looked me straight in the eye. There was no side-stepping, no glancing over my shoulder, it was a straight-forward look into my being. There was no intentional conversation, but there was validity that I existed for that brief second in the elevator. This moment in time reminded me of another time in my life.

It was years ago and I was in the midst of what some may call success, I was editing at the magazine, teaching composition at the university, volunteering and serving on boards. In other words, I was wayyy too busy to know that there was life outside of my tunnel visioned world. Then, without knowing what was going to happen, I stopped at Arby’s for a sandwich and this girl behind the counter smiled at me. It was a smile that struck me so hard that I stopped dead in my tracks, and said, “Thank you for smiling. I can’t remember when someone actually smiled at me.” She looked at me as if I was strange, and maybe I was to notice a smile.  It was a genuine smile, and at that moment something happened. I realized that I had made my life so busy that I forgot to  be human, to touch someone else’s heart, to smile back. I realized by that smile that we are all in this life together, and if I did not have time to stop and smile, to say a kind word, to make someone else’s day brighter, then, what is it all about? — definitely not the job, the so-called success, the baubles of American middle-class.

That smile has formed many of my days, and now I keep thinking of “the look”. Since the look, I have noticed how many people do not look at my eyes when I speak, and how many times I do not look into the souls of people I am talking with.Today, I am making a conscious effort to look into people’s eyes as I speak to them. I want them to feel what I felt, that they, too, are treasured, valued, respected and are a worthwhile human being. 

Please, take note, and let me know what you notice.




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2 responses to “It’s all in The Look

  1. Jean

    I have been elevators where I didn’t dare look the other person in the eye – a gentleman, yeah, but a pants below the butt, cocked ball cap, way too large team shirt – no way! But all in all I agree with you that most of us do not take the time to smile, to look a person in the eye when talking to them and to actually enjoy being with other people!

  2. Pat Appell

    Hi Mary,

    What a great article! 🙂


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