There’s that moment when you hold a newborn baby and your eyes lock for the first time. Welcome to the world.
Eye contact means many things to our species, and different things across cultures. In America we regard it as a show of respect, a sign that we’re paying attention. I see you. I hear you. I get you. I’m here for you.
I never had a baby of my own, but I remember so well holding each of my sister’s newborns—their hands and feet swimming through the air, seemingly beyond their control. Eyes astounded, taking in every new thing, then catching and holding mine.
You and me – same tribe.
Twenty years go by. I’m with my sister’s family in the basketball arena at Radford University, where the dean is about to confer a Bachelor of Science degree upon my niece, Molly. The youngest of the Lundquist clan. The graduates flow in— a current of black gowns and mortarboards amidst a multi-colored sea of parents, grandparents, siblings and friends.
We know Molly swims in this current. She knows we’re moored somewhere in these bleachers. But knowing is not enough. We scan. We search. Like all the families and all the graduates, we strive to find each other in this ocean of people, on this glad day.
There she is! We focus our collective beam on her. Tears in eyes, heart in throat, we wave wildly. And then she feels it. She turns. Our eyes lock.
Welcome to the world.