The baby is crawling at the verge of the ocean. Sometimes, he surges forward, into the thin skin of water that runs up the shore. He slaps at the water, delighted. Then he looks back at his mother, grinning at what he is discovering. Wanting to share it with her.
The look back. We all do it. Even my dog Anna does it. It’s obvious what we are looking at: the eyes of those who love us.
But why do we do it? What does meeting those eyes mean?
I know what it means for me. I know why I search for Patty’s eyes, why I want to see if my wife is looking.
Part is narcissistic. I want her to be watching me, I want her to be interested in what I am doing. Maybe I need confirmation that I’m engaged in something worthwhile, or cool, and her eyes and smile acknowledge it, make it even better because she approves.
But I think it’s mostly love. Anna searches for my eyes because she loves me, and wants to see that love reflected. Maybe the baby searched for his mother’s eyes out of instinct, but I suspect the baby knew his act of discovering the ocean would be enjoyed by his mother, and that the look they share would reflect and double the love bond between them.
I want to look back and see Patty’s eyes because she loves me. I see the love in her eyes, and I send it back with mine. Love acknowledged is love doubled. To link eyes is to link minds, hearts, souls. Looking back says “I want to share this with you because what is mine is also yours.”