Eyes are the windows to the soul.
While I am not religious, more a secular humanist, the Bible is one of the sources for the origin of this truism and does contain some wise, if often ignored, quotes.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!Matthew 6:22-23
(Author Note: in the original Greek the word translated as healthy in this version originally meant generous and the word unhealthy meant stingy. It’s one of those complications of texts (in the original sense) translated from Aramaic to Greek to Old Latin to New Latin to German to Old English to New English)
In these times of masks, we are forced to discern a person’s reaction to us through their eyes. Beneath the mask, there may be a smile, or a frown, hidden by the necessities of the times. Yet the eyes tell a story.
We now “see” how eyes “light up” when one smiles. Or how they grow narrow and “darken” when there is anger or uncertainty.
We are like a person who suddenly loses one of their senses, forced to rely more heavily on the others to make up the information deficit.
The fact of the matter is, depending on which study you read, somewhere between 55-90% of communication is non-verbal. Obviously, seeing a smile or frown or clenched lips would play a major part in such communication. Lacking that, we are forced to rely on the next most obvious, the eyes.
While body language—gestures, stance, distance, actions—all play a part, it is in the eyes one has the best chance of recognizing someone else’s attitude toward you.
There is a definite change in the eyes when one smiles, and it is apparent if one takes the time to look for it. Given that all the considerate people in the world are wearing masks, learning to read eyes is an invaluable skill.
Encountering someone in public not wearing a mask, even if they are smiling, engenders its own meaning. But there is still a message in the eyes. In most cases it will be one of confrontational embarrassment for their lack of public responsibility.
But no matter. Soon, perhaps not soon enough, we will be in the time of the great unmasking. When smiles once again emerge into our menu of communication skills. It would do us well to hang onto the skills of reading eyes.
For if the eyes are indeed the window to the soul, even a smile cannot serve as an opaque enough curtain to hide the truth.
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