It’s important to see others, and to be seen.
But sometimes it seems we have to choose one or the other.
It’s evening and you’re standing in your living room with the curtains open. If your lights are on, a person standing on the sidewalk can see you perfectly from outside. But if you look in their direction, you’ll see only your own reflection in the window. If you turn your lights off, and if there’s a street lamp or a full moon, you’ll see the other person easily, but you’ll be hidden from them, because the light imbalance is on their side of the window.
You can’t see each other at the same time.
There are times you know it’s more important for you to see, listen to, and/or understand someone else, than for you to be seen, heard and/or understood. The lights on your side of the window are turned down, and that’s a good thing.
Other times, especially when your voice, presence or personhood has been devalued, it is important to speak up, to shine your light, to make sure others acknowledge that you are here and you matter. Let the light rest on you for a moment.
Sometimes you have to decide whose turn it is to be seen.
But there are other times, when we’re not separated by windows and walls, and our light, sight and understanding don’t have to be partitioned.
Sometimes you walk out of your house to greet your neighbor on the sidewalk, or you are invited into someone’s living room. You meet in a space where the light is shared equally, and you are able to hold one another in mutual positive regard.
In such moments, seeing and being seen, listening and being heard, caring and being cared for, feel like one and the same thing.