I often tell Cannon that he smiles with his eyes. I don’t think he realizes what that means because he usually blinks his eyes when I tell him that. But then I came across these two pictures taken one after the other – and his eyes tell such different stories.
The first picture was him when he walked into the office and I was sitting in the chair with my camera. I snapped a picture. But for some reason he looked a little sad. I asked if he was sad. He wasn’t. He was just in observation mode. Taking in everything around him. Watching his siblings rush through their after school routine. I told him not to look sad and he gave me this face:
If you cover up his mouth in both pictures – his eyes tell a completely different story regardless of his smile. Which is why we tell him he smiles with his eyes. He’s very expressive.
I think in most people, the eyes give so much away. Sometimes it’s fatigue in a new mother. Sometimes its sorrow in the lady checking my groceries out. Sometimes it’s elation when families are reunited. The eyes tell so many stories, stories they would otherwise probably not share. It also gives opportunities to ask questions and find out more as to why they look tired or why they’re so happy. It’s an avenue to make connections with people.
Which is why we need to look up. Look people in the eyes when they’re talking and even when they’re not – a trait we teach our kids to do at a young age. And yet the older we get the less comfortable it is to look up. Perhaps not because of what we may see in someone’s eyes, but because of what might be seen in our own.
I will never forget running into one of my college professors at the store just a few months after Hallie was born. We exchanged pleasantries and went on our separate ways. Years later, with two more kids in tow, I made a visit to her office when we were on campus one summer. She recalled our brief conversation all those years ago in the store. She also shared just how hollow my eyes looked, she thought for sure we would be done having kids. Here I thought I put on such a good front – fooling her as to how miserable I really was at the time. But she wasn’t fooled – because once again – eyes don’t lie.
You want to know what I really enjoy – seeing someone with sad eyes and talking to them long enough that I can literally see a change in their eyes. As if loneliness fled their body, if only for a moment in time. And if a conversation is out of your comfort zone – perhaps a smile will do. If nothing else, smile with your eyes and it will make someone’s day.