I learned that making eye contact was dangerous, but now I'm doubting that fear. I had many experiences where a stranger would make eye contact and then try to talk to me; once or twice it was a tourist asking for directions. I'd try to help if I could. Sometimes they were begging and trying to get me to give them money, and sometimes I would give them money. Other times, especially when I was alone, I would walk away quickly. Once I remember a guy who just wanted to smile at me. Still, I learned to be afraid of these interactions. I learned that I could get hurt.
How many of you live somewhere with a lot of people, and maybe have learned the same thing? Now that I've lived outside of the city for a few years I believe I've lost this skill; and I'm not sure I want it back.
I believe that our bodies are designed to interact with each other. We're built with faces that are flat, and faces that are full of expression. I believe that we are meant to look into each other's eyes and see how people are feeling, to react and to interact with those emotions and to hear other people's ideas.
Now when I visit a city I see that it takes hard work and focused effort to ignore people. This 'skill' of ignoring the people around us may be necessary in certain situations, but I believe it's hard for me to do because it's not what I'm meant to do. I'm going against my nature. What's easier for me is letting go of that. I'm trying to open myself up to making eye contact - making complete contact, that is, with everyone I meet in my life.
There's this famous scene from the old movie Crocodile Dundee where he says hello to everyone he meets while walking down a crowded street. You can see it in the preview:
It's a funny scene because most people in New York City don't act this way. I don't think it's funny anymore, think it's admirable.
How do you 'see' people in your town?