Monday, October 25, 2010

AURA FIXATION – Unwrapping Presence

When you're in a crowd, do you ever find yourself fixating on just one of the many strangers you see? This happens to me all the time. I'm at a party, in a restaurant or watching a sporting event. There may be hundreds of people all around me, but one of them, of all those anonymous beings, will just absolutely fascinate me.

      Does who we are determine what we choose
      to see, or does how we see actually change
      what is?

Just this morning I was having breakfast with a friend, and pointed out a waitress who intrigued me. He didn't see it, and asked me if it was some kind of sexual chemistry I was picking up on. No, it's not that, I explained. But I do think it's about beauty, albeit seldom the kind you'd see on the surface.

Normally, you probably wouldn't look twice at most of these people. It's more like fleeting glimpses of something extraordinary I see shining through those otherwise ordinary façades. Most often, it's just a way of smiling, moving or interacting with other people. Sometimes I picture it as a sort of inner light that radiates from them.
  • There was a kid on my stepson's little league baseball team. He wasn't especially big nor good looking. But the way he moved to pick up a ground ball and throw it to first base was so natural, so pure, that I couldn't stop watching him. He had, at the age of ten, a degree of that intensity and self-assurence  you see in some professional athletes—the Michael Jordans, the Derrick Jeters, the Roger Federers. I hoped he'd grow up using that charisma for good.
           She had the refinement of old money, 
           but without the damage.
  • A 17- or 18-year-old girl who was sitting in front of me at a children's piano recital had an unusual radiance. I picked up on it even though I never saw more than the back of her head and an occasional profile. What was it, the way she encouraged her little brother—one of the performers? Or was it was how she looked at, and listened to, her parents, seated on either side of her. It struck me that she had the refinement of old money, but without the damage it so often inflicts. From those few impressions, I felt I could see the kind of life she would lead. And, while a bit disconcerting, I found that inkling, more than anything, reassuring.
  • I was on one of those "chicken buses" in rural Guerrero, Mexico. A heavy-set, plain-faced, 30-something woman got on at Los Achotes and sat across from me. Something about her just caught my eye. Maybe it was just the careful manner of her dress. But the more I looked—trying not to be too creepy—the more I could tell that her surface beauty went deep. I could see it in her posture and in her eyes. I'm sure this woman had experienced her share of the unrelenting challenges facing most poor Mexican women. It wasn't just that she wore that abrasion well; somehow she'd managed to gild it—she shone that brightly.
Impressions like these visit me almost every day. A skeptic might say they derive, not from the people I'm looking at, but from some need I have to see them that way. But does it make any difference?

Does who we are determine what we choose to see, or does how we see actually change what is? Or could both be true? What do you think? I'd love to hear your comments!


Anonymous said...

Excellent blog! I really appreciate your observations.

Jeff said...

Dear Ms. Onymous (May I call you Ann?) I'm so glad you like what I'm doing, and hope you'll come back!

Anonymous said...

This one particularly struck me. I too experience these episodes. Now I can just enjoy them without wondering if I am a little odd.


Jeffrey Willius said...

Thanks, Madonna - I'm afaid that, in your case, this is simply stalking. You know I'm kidding! Not surprised you notice such things...

Grace said...

Beautiful post. I find this with certain belly dancers that I admire. They may not be more beautiful in the conventional sense or techincally better dancers, but there's something about them that make them a joy to watch.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Glad you liked it, Grace. What a great fascination! How much would you say it's for the dancing and how much for some unique qualities of the individuals?

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