They say the eyes are the window to one’s soul. Which is a good thing I guess since that’s the only thing we have all gotten a glimpse of over the past few months. Fearful, bright eyes widening at the sight of you passing them in the supermarket, crossing their path in an airport bathroom, or side stepping them on the sidewalk. And then it’s gone. The moment of eye contact is suddenly gone as the other person quickly looks down, intentionally planning their path to get as far away from YOU as possible. The path to safety. The path away from fear. The path away from uncertainty.
It’s a natural human response to fear to get away from a threat as quickly as possible. So you can’t blame a person for trying to protect themselves, but I don’t care who you are, it still stings… When the only contact you have with another human-being in the span of a day, a week, or a month is saturated with that person distinctly trying to avoid your presence – yeah that’s gonna feel a bit like a blow.
I have noticed a good many character changes on the plane lately. Especially with human interaction. One of the things I have noticed the most is that people have stopped saying hello. On the average day, I say hello to hundreds of people. Smiling, regardless of the cloth mask covering my face because I think smiling can be seen through the eyes. Call me crazy. I think people can tell when you are happy – mouth covered and all. So I smile and say hello, good morning, welcome on board, and typically people say it right back… but that has not been the case as of late. More people than not, will walk right on past like they didn’t hear a word: don’t stop, don’t pass go, don’t collect 100 dollars, and whatever you do don’t look up. People are so afraid of human interaction, they avoid eye contact, or a even a simple hello.
I happened to see someone I knew lately… well I suppose I passed her. She was a family member of a friend of mine and when I walked past, she backed up as far as she could against the wall. Her body was nearly angular, with an uncomfortable, “I don’t want to be anywhere near you,” look on her face. I have a nagging feeling that I will always remember that look in her eyes. It had been a hard day for me anyways, because I had to miss something that my heart had been looking forward to for a long time, and that look was the icing on the very dry, very vanilla cake. I went straight to my car and balled my eyes out. I just felt – almost dirty in a way – like she thought I was the disease.
We are living in unprecedented times, and it’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt… Fear is a tricky thing, and once it takes hold, the grip is a hard one to loosen. BUT, it is important for us to realize that people are not the enemy here. Yes, people are carriers of many viruses, many germs, and yes, we are smack dab in the middle of a GLOBAL PANDEMIC (honestly still can’t believe it)… We absolutely HAVE to take the precautions to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. I am going to let you in on a little secret though, and I guarantee it will if knock those fruit of loom socks right off those little toes of yours.
We CAN social distance without being “distant.”
I am not talking about proximity, because I absolutely believe that we should all try and abide by the guidelines that the CDC has presented to us. I am talking about letting this virus, this germ, this infection, that has permeated our lives so completely to keep us from loving people, to keep us from letting people in.