Lately I’ve found myself doing a lot of eye-contact exercises in the context of partnering and improv-focused classes. That often means standing a foot away from someone you may or may not know and staring into their eyes for several minutes.
Focused, extended eye contact is a funny thing. At first, here’s the social awkwardness stuff which takes a little while to get over. The whole “window to the soul” thing can be kind of scary to exchange with strangers (or even non-strangers).
But there’s a point where eye contact is so close and so long that it stops being a social thing at all and becomes a mechanical challenge. The point where you’re starting to notice the veins in their eyeballs and reflections in their pupils, and then you realize that you’re not sure how to look at two eyes at the same time.
So you shift between them. Maybe a slow shift, maybe faster. And you realize that your partner is playing the shifty game too, a minuscule, impossible, endless game of tag with the moving targets that are your eyes.
It’s kind of interesting to think about how even on the most basic level, interpersonal connection is more slippery and dynamic than we make it out to be. It’s not a definitive meeting or bonding. More of a perpetual negotiation in the close space of almost there.