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Seen And Being Seen

June 17, 2021

 
A few years ago I had a chance to renew an old musical acquaintance, who, in the ensuing time since, had lost most of his eyesight. We were both speaking at a conference in Indiana and along with some old friends, had a lovely afternoon together in the ‘speakers cabin’ exchanging stories and memories.
 
When I was about to leave and catch my flight home, he asked, “Before you go, can I see you?”
He then stood up and held out both his hands, reaching towards the sound of my voice. I instinctively placed my face in his palms and he slowly moved his fingers across my forehead to my chin, ‘seeing me’. It was a remarkable moment of vulnerable connection.
 
He asked to see me and I let him.
 
It reminded me afresh of the wide range of possibilities of seeing and being seen that don’t involve eyesight.
We all desire to be seen, albeit on our own terms.
Which is usually with the eyes of the heart – to be ascribed regard, recognition and value.
We sometimes confuse this with being known or understood, however, they are not the same.
 
As a simple exchange of mutual humanity, we do not need to be known or understood to be seen.
 
As my story suggests – being seen involves a kind of consent, such as I received his hands and placed my head in his palms. It could be holding onto an outstretched hand, or accepting someone’s empathetic gaze, or letting a good Samaritan help me in need.
 
Like a game of catch, it depends on receiving what someone else is throwing.
 
Being seen with the eyes of the heart.
 
 


 
The featured image is courtesy of  Christopher Burns on Unsplash.
Seen and Being Seen was originally published in Roy Salmond’s excellent newsletter – Between the Notes. 
It is published here by request for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project with his gracious permission. 


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