Life’s what you see in people’s eyes; life’s what they learn, and, having learnt it, never, though they seek to hide it, cease to be aware of . . . (Virginia Woolf, from "An Unfinished Novel")
I have to be quiet long enough. Reading eyes is easier when listening, than when talking.
I was listening to a student talk about changing his mind about becoming a lawyer after being in a jury selection pool. "It was like because this lawyer was wearing a suit, the people in the room believed him, whatever he said. It made me sick. I had wanted to earn a lot of money. But now I want to be a teacher instead."
And I looked off to the left, to the bare white wall, as if abstract ideas about value and fulfillment floated there and I might see the possibilities. Excited and wanting to talk and talk but also to hear what else he had to say, I remembered something someone said in a speech at one of the campaign conventions the night before on TV, about how working is more than just earning money, it's taking care of your family and your community. I looked back to the student, his eyes reflecting the window light behind me.
"It was a hard spring term, I lost interest in life. I was smoking too much weed, several times a day. But then something happened."
"Working with kids at the YMCA. . . . God . . . "
And I remembered how he looked when he came in, before I'd heard his story. So happy. The dark time a few months past hidden, or healed. It was Life in his eyes.