The Glad Eye
In the south, we are taught to be friendly to strangers. Not wanting to appear rude, we walk down streets giving passersby a smile or nod to acknowledge them. Currently, I am spending some time in France refreshing my language skills and enjoying their culture. I just learned recently that for the French, making eye contact with a stranger is considered to be rude. The French prefer to save their energy for people they know and care about. If you look them in the eye or smile and then say bonjour, the assumption is that you know them. If they do not recognize you, they think you attempting to manipulate them because you are engaging in such an informal manner or that you are flirting. This, incidentally is not the time when they choose to flirt if they were raised well.
Before having that cultural lesson I had an interesting experience on the beach with a stranger. I was walking along the shore enjoying the different ways people were having fun on the beach. I saw kite surfing, balls being tossed by owners and retrieved by their dogs and people fishing from the shore. One particular fisherman was turning around at about the same time that I was passing him. I smiled and nodded as I am conditioned to do. I then caught a surprised look on his face that quickly change to lascivious energy that he then directed towards me! I was annoyed. Seriously, sir…what’s your deal? I immediately thought perv and then averted my eyes and picked up my pace. I was not flattered, I was irritated. A perfectly innocent how do you do was sullied by his male ego. Now… let’s take a look at his motivation. According to his cultural norm, my making eye contact first, signaled to him that (a) I knew him ( which we both knew I did not), or (b) I was interested in a romantic liaison. Which one do ya think he decided on? He was reacting to what he thought was a romantic overture.
I think we all are guilty of making assumptions about others based on what we consider to be normal or acceptable. But do we ever stop to consider what shaped our attitudes and then gets demonstrated through our language and our actions? How does our past or even our cultural, religious, or political beliefs impact how we are interacting? Sometimes we rush to judgement when someone shares their view point. We even might assume that we understand them and that we are similar to them if they echo our sentiments. But the truth is, we can never truly know another person. We are not in their physical body with access to their true feelings and thoughts. We do not even know their life story.
How can this awareness change our relationships with others? We can listen for a connection between words and attitude, then actions becomes more clear. We use this moment to offer grace. We learn that by doing to others what we want done to us shifts our vibration to a higher frequency. When I was in judgement of this man based on what I believed his behavior to mean to me, I opened the door to the energy of judgement. I judged him, therefore I can now expect to be judged by others. I hate it when people make assumptions about me especially when they do not even know me. I often wonder, why is life giving me those kinds of people? Because as we saw above, I readily judge another under the right circumstances. The universe used the fisherman to show me one area in my life that I can make judgements.
I also have to locate any place in my life that I might offer somebody the glad eye. There have been times I’ve given gorgeous men the once over. I’m not fisherman obvious, but they probably knew I found them attractive. Because I do not leer, I consider my behavior to be okay. But what if like me, these men do not appreciate sexual energy from a strange woman? (It’s rare, but it could happen) If I do not enjoy receiving it, I should probably think twice about giving it. All energy connects. What I do to you, I do to me; and what I do to me I do to you. Take a little time and examine your double standards, but do not stop there. When you find yourself judging someones’s behavior wrong or inappropriate, give them a little grace. There might be something more happening in that moment than you realize. If for no other reason do it for yourself. When you can give grace, you open the door to receive grace. Who knows? It just might come in handy one day.