The ones in my head tend to age as I grow older. They see the world with whatever age I physically am at the time. And there will be a day when they see the world no more except as a blur. (They already do if I don’t wear contacts). They see life as a series of task or inevitabilities, a train on a track destined for a station, and like that track, there’s no real freedom of movement, or freedom of possibilities. If they see the bridge is out ahead, whether it be as simple as a costly car repair or as big as a family falling apart, they look cold and logically, and feel a bit despairing. Which makes sense, as they are in my head… that place of logical, rational thinking we Westerners hold in such high regard.
The ones in my heart are quite a different matter all together. They only age if I don’t use them. And when I do use them, they actually grow younger. They see the world as a cornucopia of possibilities, many of which make no rational sense at all. They tend to believe in impossibilities with no less effort than breathing – they are a given. And when they look at other people, they see all kinds of complexity and fire without much in the way of judgment; as the Zulu saying goes I then “see with the eyes of the heart.” This set of eyes jumps at the opportunity to play with children because they are child-like and merely see a new set of friends with whom to share a laugh and giggle. They need play, they need to be loved, they need someone outside themselves. And though they might grasp the image of life on a train track and there might be bridges out ahead, this set of eyes sees nothing wrong with believing it will all work out; that maybe the train can fly off the tracks or some other impossible option.
The more I age the more I am tempted to live by the eyes in my head. After all, aren’t we supposed to grow up? When I do, though, life tends to be a drag, I tend to be a sonofabitch and as for needing anyone else, well, that’s good for children but not for adults. With this aging, it gets harder to see with the eyes in my heart. But they are the ones that remind me I am alive, that there are endless possibilities to be imagined, and are free to receive because just like any child, I need. The eyes of the heart see God as a child at Christmas time and don’t conclude it’s absurd. They see someone that knows how to play, that isn’t afraid of wonder and mystery, that gets IT.
I saw this distinction so vividly one night. I was with a friend who has two young kids. Her mother walked in the door with her daughter – age 4. I looked up and my eyes made contact with her daughter. I dropped what I was doing and the two of us played silly. About five minutes later Grandmother pointed out that she’d said “hello” to me when they walked in but I didn’t respond. I am not sure if I did or not. I had a momentary coup of the heart that saw only a child who was giddy to play, and forsook all adult propriety. Or another night, at the grocery, a boy was riding in the basket of a cart asking why so many people were watching him. (I being one of them). She responded, “Because you are so enrapturing.” And we all laughed. Eyes of the heart.
Growing older seems to increase the pressure on both sets of eyes. One set knows Life said that the world he runs is for children, for pure hearts that see with the heart, and says, “Yes!” The other set hear Adults say I need to grow up and act like my age. But the only Elders I’ve ever admired are the ones that glow with child-like hope even as their bodies are wrinkled, frail and breaking; the ones that seem to grow younger with each trip around the sun.