Our fellow tribemember Gigi offered a great addition to the JTN manifesto:
Looking out at the world with and through eyes of love.
When I read this suggestion, it took me back to grade school.
I used to walk a half-mile to and from school every morning and afternoon. As I walked, I looked at the ground.
I have vivid memories of cracked chunks of sidewalk that could trip you up if you weren't careful ... or strange names and symbols scrawled into the concrete with a stick or a pencil when the concrete had first been wet ... or patches of weeds and grass pushing up through the sidewalk slits.
I carry these memories because I looked at the ground as I walked.
When I got to junior high, I walked the indoor hallways between class periods staring at the floor then, too. I still remember that tightly meshed orange and black pattern that was probably put down in the 1970s. I remember the tiny greenish square tiles of the bathroom floors.
And in high school, I got to know the wide, expansive walkways between each building on the campus.
Then there are the ways this shows up in my adult life:
- It is always easier for me to look others in the eye while they are speaking than while I am speaking.
- I avert my gaze instinctively when encountering another in the aisle at the grocery store.
- I assume the hipster riding his bike down the street devalues my presence on the road.
It's strange, this proclivity in me.
I've been aware of it for many years, but it wasn't until last summer that I began trying on a different posture with conscious attention.
I believe the impetus was my irritation with the checkout person at the grocery store. She struck me as utterly rude, and for no particular reason at all. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why she'd acted so short with me.
She'd probably just been having a really bad day.
I pushed my cart to the car in steam. I drove home with pursed lips. I thought of all the pointed remarks I wished I had said.
And then I found myself wondering:
What would it be like to love her?
This is the equivalent, to me, of looking out at the world with and through eyes of love.
Instead of assuming an inferior posture (read: looking at the ground while we walk) or a defensive shield (read: fuming at someone else's actions or inactions), it means adopting an approach of welcome. Embracing another's presence with a smile. Holding our heads up and looking other people in the eye with confidence and gladness.
I desire to live that way with ease and readiness.
I'm still working on it.
As I said above, it's something I've begun to do with more conscious attention. But it's not natural to me yet. I still drive down the road and assume I'm the least deserving one to be there.
I suppose that's the adult equivalent of still watching the ground while I walk.
What about you:
What is it like for you to look (or not look) out at the world with and through eyes of love?