Why Are You Looking At Me?

Yana’s hard to miss. She was born with achondroplasia. In her late twenties, she’s four foot six inches tall, and she’s undergone ten operations to lengthen her arm and leg bones.

“Everybody always looks at me,” she mused. “But never for the reasons I want.”

“Everybody I know,” I said, “especially the performers, has such a complicated relationship with being looked at. But seriously, I cannot imagine what yours is like.”

“It’s hard,” said Yana.

I’d spent time with her, but I’d never walked around with her in public, where people stared. I noticed the way people looked at her as she moved through the world. I wondered what it must feel like to have the gaze of the world fixated on you because of the shape of your body. Inescapable…It was the story of her life…the festival of people who stared at her body and then quickly glanced away. Who gawked at her, but never said anything. She’d lived her whole life having to cope with people looking at her the wrong way, but never addressing it…They were looking at her. But they weren’t seeing her. ~ Amanda Palmer in The Art of Asking

Courtesy of Yahoo

Courtesy of Yahoo

To make ends meet while she wrote songs in pursuit of her dream as a rock star, Amanda hired herself as a statue. She painted herself white and stood frozen in a wedding dress in the middle of Harvard Square. (Sounds cool. You know I would do this?)

As they dropped money in my hat, I would lock my eyes onto theirs, and think:
Thank you.
*blink*
Here. Take a flower.
*blink*
And if I was in a particularly good mood:
I love you.
*blink*

What I hadn’t anticipated was the sudden, powerful encounters with people – especially lonely people who looked like they hadn’t connected with anyone in ages. I was amazed by the intimate moments of prolonged eye contact happening on the busy city sidewalk as traffic whizzed by, as sirens blared…

Perhaps even more than being seen, what she really loved about being the Bride was “sharing the gaze.” Feeling connected. which is why stripping, which she’d tried earlier for a season was as disappointing as the money was good. I was being looked at. But I never felt seen. The strip joint was like Teflon to real emotional connection…Sometimes I would get home and have a nice little breakdown, having no idea what to do with all the loneliness I’d collected. People looked at her naked body but no one looked her in the eye.

Isn’t it interesting that a stripper and a dwarf could bear the same heartache? People stared at Yana but didn’t care to connect with her. Apparently, they’d rather do this with a statue. It humanized the Bride to be able to invite “them into [her] face like a host invites a guest into a kitchen” and be invited to look back into theirs. Yana wasn’t invited back. They looked away. Jonathan Novick’s documentary Don’t Look Down on Me, a day in the life of a dwarf in New York City, gives us a similar glimpse into the human heart. The video is a retelling of a hidden camera Jonathan wore as he made his way through what was for him a typically savage emotional minefield as he caught people in their most candid response to his appearance. They not only gawked but snapped shots of him on their phone. One guy actually said, “What is that?” To remain alone, that is, unseen – is to stay incomplete. This is so whether we are married or single because our self-perception, while it should be loud and assured, is not only limited but often distorted. As social creatures we need feedback about ourselves – explicit and implicit – to fill in the spaces and expand us toward our potential. Most of us don’t carry the cross of ostracization and cruelty on a daily basis but it would wear on even those with the strongest sense of self. Because we were made for connection that nurtures. Isn’t this why we crave love and isn’t this where sex, its physical consummation, finds its meaning? That we hope to find embrace and acceptance when we bare ourselves body and soul? When we’re in love, we endow our beloved with generous perceptions of attractiveness. We reinforce his, her dignity. We dignify one another when we look at the other not as eye candy or a specimen but as a human being in process with the same hopes and fears in our own heart.

This longing for relationship is why bloggers value comments so much. A thoughtful word is evidence that we were seen. Every time I publish a post, I am asking for your time. Your eyes. On me. And one reason it is so satisfying when you answer is that bloggers can’t make anyone lean in, let alone return – not to mention how easy it is to unfollow. Amanda’s story is really about the relationship with her fans on social media. Her success as a rock star and the first indie musician to raise $1 million on Kickstarter is, to her, a mere and natural result of real community. While I don’t think of my readers as fans and my name isn’t so big, I can relate to Amanda’s relationship with her blog readers and music supporters. And many of you can, too.

She writes, “I was punch-drunk from the instant gratification of sharing life in real time, the random closeness, the feeling that I wasn’t going through my struggles alone.”

It is amazing how intimate we can be with so many people at once. Astonishing to be really seen.

215 thoughts on “Why Are You Looking At Me?

  1. Oh my! Now this is just a lovely post. You’ve nearly rendered me speechless. I too do a lot of work around those themes of being seen, really seen, where people look beyond the physical and peek into your soul. Everyone has that need inside of them, we all want to reach out and touch somebody, to see and be seen and to be recognized. I’ve always thought that one of the saddest things about being homeless or disabled is that people tend to want to look away or else stare, and when we do that we render people somewhat invisible, which is actually very cruel.

    • You nailed it on the people we marginalize and erase. I also almost mentioned abused or neglected children. Breaks my heart. They need adults to fill in those spaces in their hearts and expand them. -( Thx for piping in, my friend. I am glad we’ve been here for each other. =)

  2. But then if it is all about instant gratification and being seen, why do some bloggers (I don’t mean you!!) turn off the ‘Like’ button on their blog? Isn’t that instant gratification? Or is it not enough? I don’t know. I think what I really enjoy is looking a stranger in the eye in the middle of the street or a store and just smiling. And then they smile back, and that just makes my day. Maybe different gratification?

    • Yes, different, L. I can speak only for myself and I hesitate to spell out why I turn it off when I do. =) I love the eye contact w/ the stranger you mention. That’s what Amanda was getting at.

    • You know what? Sorry, I did write instant gratification. I had liked that months ago, put it in my draft, planned to use it, and then focused on the rest of that line when I copied and pasted the line into the post so that my memory missed it when you mentioned it. I will tell you why it is okay with me, in light of this gratification we enjoy as bloggers, to turn off the like or comment switch every blue moon. Though these options bring us the reinforcement that we were seen, when I put something out there to you guys, I know (often by the like or comment I did NOT switch off, as I normally don’t remove both functions) that I was seen. The knowledge is enough for me.

  3. Beautiful insights and post Diana. You are right on that we crave/ need love and connection that nurtures. Thankfully my blogging community provides some of that. And I would love to add back more nurturing in my person relationships where real intimacy is shared. Eye gazing and conversation can be wonderfully intimate. It’s nice to see you! πŸ™‚

      • I loved the part about how bloggers see a comment on one of their posts in the same way as the ‘eye contact’ Amanda enjoyed as the Bride.it is true. wish I had as much ‘eye contact’ as your blog. but I’m working on it -mike

      • That can come with time, Mike. =) And yes, you got it perfectly, how there are many ways we can connect as strangers (and fast friends), and how blogging is one such amazing way. Thanks so much for the thoughtful read.

        Diana

  4. My husband and I like to hit the trails and hike. It is interesting when we pass other hikers. Some stop to talk briefly while others barely make eye contact. I have to admit that it bothers me when people purposely ignore us as we cross paths. I always say “hello” and smile, trying to engage other hikers. Even in nature’s solitude where its beauty suffices, I desire basic connection with other people.

    • “Even in nature’s solitude where its beauty suffices, I desire basic connection with other people.” Wonderful, Deb. This is something I’ve thought about. I didn’t hike, actually, ’til later in life when I moved to CA. It was novel to find hikers greet me and my husband in passing on the small, quiet trails. The simple gesture in fact builds community, as fleeting as it is, as an acknowledgement of a shared pleasure/activity. I think strangers choosing to make eye contact and smile is a profound act.

  5. Very powerful post…. Makes us think….I try to live by….do unto others as you would want done to yourself… Never judge just be grateful….its so very hard to do….good post thanks

    • She is not my palate, but actually, might be yours, Marissa. At the end of her book, she asks us (note the title of her book and subsequent famous TED Talk The Art of Asking) to chk out her music. She created a free playlist for the unintiated at

      amandapalmer.net/theartofasking

      I like her lyrics (spelled out in the book), though I would not attend a concert. =)

      And thx for the sweet comment. Let me know what you think of her.

      • Okay, just found a video on Youtube. She’s not bad. She has and edge which I appreciate and yes, also good lyrically. Image wise she’s very in your face and honestly it makes me a little uncomfortable, not just the nudity, but the way she uses it. I guess that’s part of the message she wants to get across but I like the music to do the talking.

      • That’s cool you chked her out. I agree that she’s a bit over the top on the vulnerability thing but I think you’d enjoy her book. There’s more of it I’ve wanted to post but I don’t know if I’ll have time. This is my second 8-wk renewal from the library!

      • I’ll have to keep my eye out for it. I’m glad to hear it’s in the library since that’s where most of my reading comes from. I too am often past my limit and then transferring the renewals to my children’s cards much to the librarian’s chagrin.

  6. That’s exactly how I feel when I read comments: seen, and understood, in a way rarely achieved in real life. I’ve always had a hard time out in public. When I was young, I was convinced everyone was looking at me. This only got worse during the awkwardness of adolescence. Now, it has subsided for the most part, although there are times, in public, when my consciousness is occupied with others’ perceptions of me and those I am with, instead of just being in my body and experiencing whatever it is I am doing. As soon as awareness of this switch arises, I try not to judge myself, and refocus on the present. In these instances, I am 50% successful, but it is amazing how fast I slip back into unconsciousness (why is that person staring, is he/she staring…)

    Love,
    E

    • Hey, how’d ya know I was thinking of you? Ha ha ha. Truly amazing. I was looking at you in my mind and you entered unconsciously. =) The self-consciousness you speak so honestly of (which I bet many can relate to) is something that came to the fore in the recent wks for me – thanks to some challenges with some people. I’ve had to voip myself out of the small radius of my present life, 30, 40 years out, and ask myself if I wanted to give these people the power to rob me of living. (It helped!)

  7. What a wonderfully touching post Diana. So much to chew on here but what really resonated is how people felt more able to be vulnerable and connect with a “statue” than a real person sharing extremely personal parts of her body on stage. I don’t know what to make of that other than it’s very interesting.

    Social isolation is a very sad and I believe increasing problem in our culture. I also can’t imagine what someone who has physical deformities goes through in our beauty obsessed world.

    Thanks for writing this, it really made me think.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, T. I appreciate the read. We do take so much for granted. And I have a far way to go before I learn real compassion for those who face some serious obstacles everyday. I almost posted a vid of another little female. She really is beautiful – has an artistic eye for how she presents herself physically, too – but it was sad as well as inspiring to see what she had to deal with everyday. Even grocery shopping was a challenge for her: she couldn’t reach the upper shelves! Count our blessings and…be a blessing….right?

  8. An excellent article! I really enjoyed your insights and examples. Your article made me think about how we really are social beings. It’s tragic how people look at and treat people who look different.

  9. Excellent post with much to think about. I like this post very much.

    When you write the bloggers like the comments it is true in most cases. But, I’ve experimented with maybe 2-3 bloggers by commenting on every one of their post for many months only have them never comment on mine.

    Speaking of eye contact, “most” folks here in central Texas make eye contact and if they do not, I find those people to be snobs or totally in another world.

    • That’s an interesting report, Yvonne – on the experiment. We (you esp) don’t comment and support others TO receive, but there IS such a thing as etiquette, in the online world as much as the “real”. That really bugs me about those bloggers (knowing how thoughtful you were). I don’t know that they will sustain a loyal following in the lonnnng run. Mmm….I’ve heard awesome things about Texan courtesy.

      • Yes, to put it mildly we are “different” in these here parts. πŸ™‚

        I have noticed that the bloggers that pick and choose who they reply to, don’t have very many commenters. It seems they have a severe case of self love and appear very snobby about their ability to write.

      • You bring up an important point, actually. Blogging is giving as much as it is getting (quantitative markers of growth, attention). It’s pretty simple to me. Support your supporters. Give gladly and it usually comes back to you. =)

  10. A most beautifully written and thoughtful post. I work with many children with special needs and disabilities, many have syndromes that make them outwardly different – but inwardly, they are just kids that really want to enjoy their childhoods and just be kids.
    I also find people are using their cellphones as a social crutch so they don’t have to “connect” or make eye contact with those around them. We are closing in on ourselves, like turtles into a shell.

    • Two excellent points, my friend. That we are really the same inside with the same desires and needs. And yes, we’re actually turning (ourselves) into social misfits. Talk about disabilities! Thanks.

      Diana

  11. Always something thought provoking to ponder on this page. There are a lot of hurting people in this world and sometimes their way of dealing with it is to be aggressive toward those who genuinely would like to get close to them. Not only should we seek to “see” people so they don’t feel like non-entities in society, but we also need to give them our understanding. Sometimes that means ignoring their aggressive presentation and persevering to break through the barrier.

    • Ideally. =) Not many of us will be able to do this, Ian. But yes, it certainly would be a start to remember that we can try to see one another with the burdens in their hands. I think travel also helps expand our perspective and also reminds us how small the world really is when you remember it is the same human heart beating in all of us. Thanks.

  12. I am always asking myself why I blog and why I enjoy reading blogs. I should have just asked you. Validation. I love how you have tied up seemingly disparate examples with a thread that makes total sense. Very well said. Thank you.–Ardys

  13. I recently read 2 books (my son’s books actually) about this idea of being stared at but not seen. Both are written from a child’s perspective about living with a severe physical disorder. Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper — great reads for both kids and adults… totally eye opening and a little heart wrenching. x x

  14. Call me lethargic or say my creative writing skills are hibernating for a while; lately my posts have become infrequent. Honestly, I find pleasure in sharing views on your intriguing posts carrying positive messages.
    About the topic – I guess nurturing relationships is difficult but still within our control; what’s important is finding that connection – that sense of belonging, may it be common thoughts, interests or so on…

    • Right. It doesn’t have to even be a group – we want to feel we belong even in the moment, welcome or at least accepted, even by the passing stranger. And you’ll come out stronger for the hibernation. =)

  15. I wrote a poem once about homeless people called ‘I see you’. It wasn’t very good, but it captured that feeling I had, and that I imagined they had about not being seen. Being a rather plain looking woman, I blend easily into crowds. No one stares and I am rarely seen, but sometimes there is that eye to eye, heart to heart connection with a stranger. It is intimate and memorable and as you say it gives us dignity and recognition as a fellow human. Thank you for a beautiful thought-provoking piece.

    • Love the description of your experience with strangers who connect with you, K. Why don’t you post the poem on your blog? =) What a great perspective to challenge us. Whether we are like Amanda the performer (and attention monger) or more unassuming like you, it’s funny how we are the same in our humanity. We want to know we matter. And thanks so much for the encouragement.

      Diana

  16. To be looked at, versus to be seen. Such a great distinction you made through your examples, D, though Amanda’s work doesn’t float my boat (still art, though, and props to that). Maybe it’s a personality thing sometimes – our personality and who we are depends on whether we are seen or not, which is what helps us find our tribe.

    Comments are very, very, nice, especially those that are more than just one line. Sort of like someone is romancing your work and writing, and having a dance with it. When we’re seen, often someone probably feels our emotions too in some way πŸ™‚

    • Her music isn’t my cup of tea, either. But as I told one of the earlier commenters, her lyrics have substance. That’s interesting you say “someone is romancing your work and writing” because I almost added that in some ways I woo every time I post. Thank you for the thoughtful feedback, my friend.

      • I do think at the end of the day, honest heart and varying perspectives make our writing shine. It is so easy to get obsessed with numbers and comments…but what writer doesn’t want feedback on their writing, and their thoughts.

        Always love popping by here, D ❀

  17. This human need to be seen is quite profound isn’t it? I don’t k ow that I had thought about being seen from the point of view of someone who looks different – or someone who is bring objectified. On a tangent, it reminds me of something I read, that women are used to being ‘seen’, the passive gaze, where as men are conditioned to be the see-ers. Interesting when you think about it.
    Something else that occurred to me was that living in a rural area means that you are seen. Acknowledgment, even of complete strangers is normal. This feels very friendly to some and claustrophobic to others. There is a great freedom in not being seen. Thank you for sending my thoughts down unexpected paths :).

    • I do buy the men/women dichotomy. Makes me wonder also about all the portraits painted through the centuries. I suspect we will find more female portraits (by male artists) than vice versa, though this may have to do with socioeconomics that enabled more men to be commissioned by wealthy patrons than women.

      “There is a great freedom in not being seen.” Mmm.
      But freedom can be lonesome, too.

      • Of course. I am just thinking of the relief I felt when I left my small town as a newly minted adult, and moved to a large city where nobody knew me, or had any ideas about me. It was an ecstatic feeling. It helped me to realise that it’s not all about me, that people in fact, are more interested in themselves than what I’m doing, which meant that i was free to dress and act in any way that I wanted to. Of course, within that anonymity I made a community where I was seen, which is so important too.

  18. What a thought-provoking post and so many truths and realities here. Using the ‘blogging world’ was a great example, too – you’re right – we are all chasing that ‘eyes on me’ moment….and yet, often, we are left feeling ‘unseen’, ‘unheard’ or even ‘invisible’ – there’s no worse feeling than feeling alone in the world, and on the contrary, connection can mean everything.

    Thank you for sharing Amanda’s story and your own thoughts.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend πŸ™‚

    • I haven’t consciously pursued any eyes as a blogger but I realized that is in fact what we are doing by nature of the beast (that is blogging). Else we wouldn’t be putting ourselves out there. Thanks for being here, Amanda. I know it’s been a busier summer than the blogger in you probably would’ve liked, too. =)

      Xx

      • That’s very true. & you’re very welcome. It’s always a pleasure to stop by πŸ™‚ You’re right though, these holidays have been tough. Would it be mean of me to say that I’ll be slightly relieved when the kids go back to school? So relived, I might pull out one of my classic ‘happy dances’ Hehe. Xx

  19. I am a fan.

    *Raises hand. Then the whole arm. Shakes it around. Helloooooo*

    Isn’t it ironic that the people who struggle so much throughout their lives end up teaching us the most about how to live one? I am all praises for the brave souls you mentioned and for your effort to show them to us. Thank you.

    πŸ™‚

  20. ”A friend of mine who is a real writer told me once that he believes a lone coyote howls in the deep night because it seeks contact, connection, the company of other coyotes. Human beings, he went on to tell me, yearn for much the same thing. He said his books were nothing more than his own howls. . . . Maybe.”–Harry Middleton

  21. Such an interesting read, Diana. It seems I spent a lifetime not being noticed, not wanting to be. Except in areas of academics, which was my greatest achievement. Now, I love being seen, if only in words. This venue works for me in so many ways. ☺

  22. Fascinating way to get to the point at the end about blogging, and you’re right about it. I blogged quite a bit for a year or two, but I have slowed down a lot in the last year or so, and it’s because that need for community and being “seen” just wasn’t really there. I always viewed blogging as a way to engage in a dialogue with others around the world. But that dialogue never really got started on my blog. I didn’t realize until reading this post, that part of it also was about being “seen.” Why do we put our words out there, other than for that reason.

    • “Why do we put our words out there, other than for that reason.” Yep. It wasn’t something I’ve consciously pursued, but hit me eventually. We want to know we matter, that the thoughts and feelings that matter to us do to others as well. Or we’d be writing away in our private journal. That is what I appreciated about your last comment; I absolutely felt seen and you were earnest to show me what you had discovered from your experience. Thanks for coming. =)

      Diana

      • It’s funny. In so many ways, I want to remain hidden from the world. I want to remain unnoticed in the shadows. But, yes!, if I put my words out there I want them noticed. ;). Thank you for your post. It put into words something I was uncomfortable saying about myself until you went first.

  23. Loved everything about this piece. So many angles. It reminded me when I took a year sabbatical to write and I worked weekends at a Barnes and Noble to make extra money. I greeted everyone that approached but noticed I looked away from people who were heavy. Like I was embarrassed for them. So I made a point to stop doing that and really look them in the eye. I challenged myself to consider what is true beauty. The reactions I got blew me away. It was evident people often did not look them in the eye and the beauty of expression I received changed me deeply.

    We are curious creatures. We need attention, we need time alone, we need to feel beautiful, we need to not be afraid when we stumble into our ugliness. We need many things and a rich life is really feeling your rhythms enough to know what you need and when to break out of your comfort zone.

    • You realize you left us a post, N? Please post it – the second part, esp – on your blog! It’s beautiful and rich. I love what you taught yourself to do: those people knew the difference between being looked at like they were ugly and being accepted and welcome as a person. What a gift you gave them. And I love how it blessed you to have done it.

      “we need to not be afraid when we stumble into our ugliness” Love this. It’s the difference between those who are able to rise from the ashes of defeat and dumb mistakes and those…who commit suicide. Thanks so much.

  24. Very moving post Diana – I love the way you’ve brought together these disparate experiences to illustrate the need for connection and the different ways in which we are and aren’t seen. We all have that need for validation and connection and it’s so easy to let our own concerns get in the way of us really seeing someone for who they are.

    • You put it so well, Andrea: “it’s so easy to let our own concerns get in the way of us really seeing someone for who they are.” I almost provided an example with me and T, how I missed the boat and interpreted his fizzing out on the drums one day as laziness when it turned out to be fear (of failure) in the face of a daunting new piece. And I did this out of my own impatient frustration for ME time, eager to be able to step away for a moment and wanting him to practice independently. Was an eye-opener for me bc I had gotten (angrily) exasperated with him and realized there was a different truth I’d missed. Thanks for the feedback, my friend.

  25. Diana, a pleasure to read your article today. I find writing a novel to be an isolated, lonely experience. But blogging is instant gratification and sharing. Affirmation is all anyone wants. It’s power is unmistakable.

    • Cindy! Gasp – so glad you piped in. I haven’t been able to access your site, though I tried for wks. Kept saying something about domain mapping. Seems to work now. I’ll be out half the day but look fwd to visiting again. And yes, you describe well the difference in dynamic and rewards of writing on a blog and working on a book. The more I think about it, the more I find blogging a remarkable gift.

  26. “People stared at Yana but didn’t care to connect with her. Apparently, they’d rather do this with a statue. “—
    I wonder about this. There’s something about the human curiosity and perhaps a certain consciousness we harbor. I’ll take myself as an example and project just a little bit.
    When I see a begger or a dwarf or something just ‘odd’, my first instinct is to look real hard and begin to imagine a number of reasons why said person is in said condition. My curiosity is at play now. Then something else kicks in– I begin to imagine what this person must feel when I gawk, so immediately I avert my gaze. Social etiquette I guess. Perhaps there are a number of people who feel this way too?

    As for the statue… People are lonelier than they appear or care to reveal. I know when we pay attention to others we can often pick out these feelings. But we don’t often look past the smile they throw our way, or the mechanical “fine” we get as a response to almost every question.
    A human statue though human is at the very moment surreal… quite inhuman. I suppose it gives the lonely people who share their gazes with the bride a sense of security. Zero judgment. And no need to hide the vulnerability.

    This is a fascinating post, Diana. I’ve read it twice now. I imagine it will get a third read before I’m satisfied πŸ‘

    • Oh and I meant to add (like I haven’t written an epistle enough), I’ve had to make myself stop looking away. I’ve tried to will myself to look ‘odd’ people in the eye and say hello with a smile, and smile in response when they greet me as I walk past (especially when I have nothing to offer by way of alms). I’m trying to see them as the humans they are first, and not as the odd people they appear to be.
      It’s been rewarding πŸ™‚

    • Ha ha ha. Reruns. I AM honored. Yes, you speak for many of us, Uju: we do avert our gaze out of both awkwardness and social protocol. But I think I can make my case that they didn’t care to connect with Yana for the simple fact that no one did. For a few years, I dealt (casually) with a woman at our eye dr’s who got around on crutches. She obviously had a bad leg. I of course tried not to look too hard, even ignored it when I could. Then on the visit this year, I decided to make it a comfortable subject matter, to call it out, as it were. Not make it something weird. I asked her about it and it turns out she had polio. Like my husband’s mother (also bad leg). I mentioned the character it must’ve helped her build for all the challenges she’s faced (though not in those exact words). She quipped, “along with the humor.” What an admirable response. I know I did the right thing in caring to ask about her obvious challenges. And I think Amanda would be so proud of you for getting it, what she discovered the Bride was doing for a lot of people. She agreed, out of gratitude, when one man who faithfully put $20s in her hat asked her to coffee once. She just listened (having doffed the costume and make-up ha ha ha) as he shared his loneliness (I think after the divorce). She left feeling he must’ve been disappointed with her after falling in love with the Bride. And that’s awesome you’ve been trying to offer the down and out a sense of dignity in the way you respond to or engage them. =) If only we could do just a little more of that.

    • This is very true for me also.

      At the end of the day I read posts and feel more connected than having spent the whole day with my coworker who talks about herself and family nonstop then barely listens when I try to speak. She always interrupts and hijacks conversations to talk about herself. So annoying and leaves me drained instead of uplifted.

  27. It’s so easy to click “like” for it can mean your words were read and appreciated, that the reader skimmed through rather quickly or they didn’t read the post at all but quickly “liked” because they “follow ” so they can move on to the next post on the blog feed.

    Commenting means the post actually needed to be read and digested. This obviously requires more time and care.

    This is why comments matter more than a simple “like” — because of the effort required!

    Great post. Very thought-provoking !
    Hope you’re having a great day πŸ™‚

  28. hello holistic wayfarer its dennis the vizsla dog hay amanda palmer my dada likes her!!! thank yoo for yore visit to the post abowt my sister trixie!!! nobuddy wil tel me why evrywun is mayking a fuss over her but i can smel that sumthing is not rite stil she is haynging in their!!! ok bye

  29. And that is why the two times I went to strippers (many years ago) I did not enjoy it. I found that without knowing person, the absence of any real intimacy, left me feeling not in the slightest bit stimulated. I found the whole experience kind of sad.

  30. Spent several years having to use a wheel chair. Most Americans are very kind and helpful, but even some children won’t make eye contact, because they know something isn’t as it should be. Had some very negative experiences while traveling in Germany, Austria, and Lucern, Switzerland, where people were actually rude and even mean. Being seen in a way that is actually a connection is very different from when we are young and good looking and literally turn men’s heads when we enter a room. When I became old and overweight, I became invisible to most men, even those my age, except gay men. They still treat me as an interesting person worth connecting with and getting to know.

    • Along with the meanness in those parts of Europe, was it less disability-friendly in terms of infrastructure there?

      And that’s a good point, Eileen. The different ways we can be noticed – for diff reasons.

      I couldn’t help chuckling about the gay men.

  31. This is some deep stuff. I woke at 3 this morning thinking about your post. I had to turn away from seeing the pain in her eyes. When the kids come in to see me ( I am an elementary secretary in a small rural school) so many can’t or don’t know how to look you in the eyes. I sit eye level to their request. I make them look me in the eyes. Now I know, its the pain they live daily in their broken tender lives. Thank you for stirring my heart. d

    • Goodness. Chills, Denise. I was a teacher so I know something of what it’s like for you in the school (hectic, for one!). I trust you will continue to gently encourage them to look you in the eyes. I don’t know how many loving people they will meet who will do that. What a powerful role you can play.

      Diana

  32. “Sharing the gaze” ~ I love this description. The sad story of those who get looked at but never seen, something I think we all go through at some points in our lives but just for short moments before someone looks into our eyes and connects. Such an important part of living and inspiration, the foundation of creation. Well said Diana, and eyes have been on you for quite some time and with writing like this it will continue to be so. Cheers to a great week!

    • “important moments before someone looks into our eyes and connects. Such an important part of living” I made it a point to greet a man in our neighborhood this way just now as T and I passed his house on our bikes. And I’m wondering if you even know that you nailed it in speaking of the foundation of creation. You don’t share my worldview but I believe this question of seeing and needing to be seen – without shame and with approval – goes back to the Garden. After the Fall, Adam n Wife – with eyes now OPEN (but in a dark way) realized they were naked and covered themselves. And they went on to hide. From their Maker. We have since had problems with being looked at though the human longing to be seen remains.

      As for the eyes on me, you do know how to flatter a woman, Randy. It’s not something I’ve consciously sought but came to see what blogging was very much about for many. It is wonderful being able to share the gaze as you show us what you see. =)

      • While we do not share the same worldview on the “small details” ~ our thoughts and minds are quite similar in meaning. Great comment, and very much admire your explanation of the beauty of ‘being seen’ with approval. Could not agree more. Wishing you a great week ahead Diana ~

  33. This is why I love thoughtful pieces like this one. This is why writing means what it means to me. Words that dig deep inside and wake you up. We all need recognition. Period. That’s why the concepts of society, connection, bonding, relationship all matter so much. But the downside is that this need for acceptance overshadows one’s true self worth. Because we spend too much time looking at ourselves from other people’s eyes, and not from our own.

  34. Beautifully articulated Diana.
    Indeed, we are designed for connection and want to be really seen.
    Social media can be a powerful tool to achieve community when we do it right.

  35. “To remain alone – that is unseen, is to stay incomplete.” Great words! One of my favourite students last semester tried to smile at everyone she saw, and discovered how infectious it was. As I read this, it struck me that it is hard to smile at someone without looking at them. Every now and then I do the same, and have the same beautiful experience. Students are the best teachers!

  36. Pingback: My Article Read (8-17-2015) | My Daily Musing

  37. Lovely post, interesting and thought-provoking. It’s sad when people don’t connect with others. Part of the busy frantic world sometimes. Thankfully the village where I’m fortunate enough to live is friendly, so many people smile and speak, whether you know them by name or not. We all need to be acknowledged.

    • It’s very different in the cities. I grew up in NYC! What’s powerful (and sad) is that it hadn’t even gone to the level of acceptance between Amanda and her street audience. It was the bare minimum of human contact at the level of acknowledgmt. Thank you for reading, Chris.

      Diana

  38. Diana, Interesting post that I can identify with.
    As one stricken with polio at age four, I, too, caught the gaze of many. It gave one the feeling of being a square peg in a world of round holes.
    Yet when asked by peers: “What happened to you?” I would simply explain polio. Then we would play with our toy cars and trucks. Through common interest the outer appearance gave way to what goes on, on the inside, where all are the same in our humanness with all its joys and sorrows.
    One can deal with any short-coming and hold no damaging grudges, if the opinion of God matters more than the opinion of people.
    -Alan

    • Hi Alan, yes I could see how you would relate to this. I really can’t imagine what it was like growing up. I shared with Uju on the thread my brief conversation with a woman (with a bad leg) I’d seen on crutches a number of years at the dr’s. A few months ago, I finally asked what had happened to her. Polio.

      And of course your God-centered response is the wisdom that brings freedom and power to those who are lonely and feel vulnerable. Thanks so much for sharing.

      Diana

  39. Fab post Diana. It’s unfortunate that society still hasn’t changed all that much when it comes to staring at someone ‘different’. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be looked at in a complimentary manner, rather than because of a handicap or indifference. The statue story was poignant. It’s sometimes just easier to pay attention to a sedentary object than connect with the eyes of a passing human. ❀

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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