The Eyes Have It

Image by Sam Pullara

Here’s some middle-of-the-night rambling from a nursing session when Baby Sister was two weeks old:

You see a newborn’s eyes so rarely, but, when you do, you get the sense that her eyes are the key to some sort of secret ancient wisdom – as though she, despite being two weeks old, knows more than I ever will.

I remember having this same feeling while watching an orca swimming in her tank at Sea World.  Looking into her eyes through the thick, scratched glass, I felt like I was seeing inside history.

It’s funny that I should get this same sensation from the tiniest and the largest mammals I’ve ever encountered.  It’s as though they are both privy to something – the same thing – universal, rare, and beyond my comprehension.

What do you see when you look into your children’s eyes?

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24 responses to “The Eyes Have It

  1. I see goodness. And hope. And love. And wonder. There is magic there, in their bottomless blues.

    (I have been pondering a post about eyes. You beat me to it. And I’m glad you did.)

  2. Beautiful! This is magical. Thank you for reminding me of our wisdom and sacred and ancient traditions.

  3. Mischief. I see mischief! Okay, I’ll be serious for a moment. I had a similar experience with my second son– knowing, understanding, empathy. Still, to this day, my younger child has a way of knowing things that I’ve not yet seen in another human being.

    • Oh, yes, I see mischief too. Not in my baby’s eyes, but in my two year old’s. And he’s got ridiculously long eyelashes framing the mischief. I have a feeling I’m in for it with that little guy. 🙂

  4. I see magic and goodness 🙂

  5. I’m sitting here nursing Elsie as I read this. Yes. What you said…newborns have old soul eyes. I think about it so much.

    I love this post…there’s just something about it. The big and tiny living things and what they both know …

  6. Soul. Why are our souls captured in our eyes?

  7. This is lovely, Kristen.

    When I look into a child’s eyes, I see innocence, trust, wonder, acceptance, and no fear.

    As they get older, that changes of course. The world changes us. But at times, I still look and see those extraordinary elements of earlier days. I wonder if we don’t all retain them, and simply don’t take the time to tap into them.

  8. This is not answering your question, but I love a story about eyes that Al Pacino tells:

    “I was on the stage for three hours straight, never coming off, and you know how it is when you’re doing a show… you connect to the audience and I felt this presence in the audience, these eyes staring at me. I had never done this before. I played the whole performance to these eyes because they were so… they were inspiring me. They were so riveting. They were just staring at me and I thought I’m finally being locked at.

    “It was throwing me a little bit, but it was inspiring me. At curtain call, when the play was over, I came out. I had to look in the direction of those eyes. And I came out, taking my curtain call, and I looked right where those eyes were. They were two seeing-eye dogs.”

  9. Wow, this post gave me chills! As soon as I saw the picture of the baby’s eye, I immediately thought of a whale. Then I pushed it out of my head quickly and started to read your post. *snap!*

  10. My kids’ eyes reflect innocence, self-confidence, curiosity, mischief, a sense of adventure and fearlessness. No dream is too big for a child.

    Something freaky about babies and eyes. When my oldest was just a few weeks old, he’s sometimes fall asleep with his eyelids open. Gross! He’d suddenly be in REM mode and you’d mostly see the white of his eyes as they would roll around. Just like a cat dreaming. Very, very freaky and I’m so glad it didn’t last!

  11. I’ll always remember my younger son’s eyes at birth—infinitely tranquil and smiling Buddha eyes. As for the parallel with the whale, it strikes me that whales (and elephants and some higher primates) are the creatures that have evolved mirror neurons… so perhaps you were seeing the ability to empathize (sad that it was in a captive creature in a tank).

    • Sad, indeed. I wonder if some deeper thinker might be able to extend the metaphor of captivity so that it applies to both zoo animals and immobile babies. How do you see differently when you live without freedom of movement?

  12. I see potential…endless amounts of potential.I see dreams waiting to be fulfilled and hope for the future that is to come later.

  13. Of course it’s very different when the kids are older and those eyes are attached to angry adolescents who don’t remember those middle of the night feeding sessions! But what I am amazed by in looking at their eyes, even now, is how different they are from me and even my husband. Their color eyes remind me that they’re unique individuals with unique purposes that may be very different from my own or what I think I want for them.

    • I think about that too, Linda. I have blue eyes and my husband has brown, but our kids all have eyes that are somewhere in between. So they’re unique individuals, yes, but with some influence from us.

  14. I found out that our eyes never change in size. The just move farther apart with age. I found that out when my firstborn was a tiny baby and I would look into her eyes, thinking, these are the same eyes I’m going to look into when you’re an adult.

    • I remember learning that fact and being blown away by it. I guess that explains why babies always seem to have such large, penetrating eyes. Ahh, the metaphors that one could come up with based on the fact that we are born with the eyes we’ll always have!

  15. Lovely sentiment in this post.

    I see the vastness of wonder in my daughter’s eyes. I know that it disappears as they age. I’ve also been around elders in my family. And I believe, once or twice, I’ve seen that same look in my ninety year old grandmother.

    • Hi Rudri,

      Your comment reminded me of how I often felt like my kids, when newborns, looked a lot like my now deceased grandmother. Maybe there really is something to this newborn baby/elderly adult/orca whale wisdom and wonder. 🙂

  16. So I have had this starred waiting to comment since I read it during a late night nursing (on my phone). However I have nothing poetic to add other than YES, LOVE, AGREE!

    I see hope, peace, God, faith, love, the world, everything and nothing, it’s amazing.

  17. One of my favorite things to do was to gaze into the eyes of my newborn babies as they nursed. There is a certain peace in the moment, such connection in those quiet moments as they nurse. Although those days were so tiring, I miss them infinitely now that my “baby” is four.

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