Our eyes locked for a moment. He wasn’t ten feet away. Of course, like all famous people he knew that his fans thought they knew him and hoped that he would know her or him. This isn’t a particularly rare thing to happen in New York City, but the instance in my mind happened in Atlantic City after an Alice Cooper concert that I attended with my brother. As kids we’d listened to Cooper with some avidity, and even the concert itself was a somewhat intimate affair (we were both adults at the time). An audience of hundreds instead of thousands, and many of the attendees about our age—that is to say, not young. That meeting of the eyes, however, reinforced something I already knew. Looking is more that your eyes receiving light particle-waves. It is a connection.
Try this with your bestie—it can be your spouse, lover, or friend. It especially works if you’ve known her or him for many years. See how long you can go staring into each other’s eyes. It’s not easy. You start to feel that they can see your secrets: your fears and vulnerabilities. You glance away. Materialists claim that seeing is a simple matter of light entering our eyes and our brains interpreting it. We all know, however, what it’s like to be stared at. How uncomfortable it makes us feel. We can often tell when someone’s staring at our backs. I wonder if there’s more to seeing than appears? Performers often crave the energy of being before thousands of eyes. They know how it’s just not the same when you have to pretend. I knew that well as a teacher.
Could seeing really go both ways? Even animals don’t like to be stared at. It’s an informal experiment I’ve tried while jogging. If you break eye contact with a deer, cat, or rabbit, you can get fairly close. If you stare, however, they dash away. It doesn’t matter if you turn your head—it’s the eye contact. I ponder how this relates to narcissists in power. They crave the eyes on them. The way to de-power them is to stop looking. Alice Cooper, I’m certain, has no idea who I am. He wouldn’t remember me if we ever met. That night he was standing outside the door of the afterparty where those who’d paid extra could get to meet him. We didn’t exchange a word, but we made a connection. There’s more to seeing than meets the eye.