It was love at first sight.
I was in my senior year of high school, looking for some inspiration for writing my graduation message to be printed in the yearbook. I cannot remember most of what I wrote (I think I remained largely uninspired and did not write a single witty thing, so why would I remember?), but there is one section of it I can still recite word by word and hold dear to my heart, decades after falling in love with it. It is a quote by a French writer and pilot A. de St.-E.:
“Aimer, ce n’est pas se regarder l’un l’autre, c’est regarder ensemble dans la même direction.”
Quite a famous quote… maybe you know it as “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
I came across this quote while I was having difficulty establishing my existence and identity… you know, that typical stage during adolescence when no one ever sees you the way you want them to, and you are unable and/or unwilling to accept what they are seeing in you. Yet, you try to let them see only what you wish to show, and you choose to see only what you wish to be shown.
When I looked at those around me, my differences from them always stood out. I felt like I was being marginalized and no one in the world understood me. I could not bring myself to love anything or anyone around me. And I could not love myself for feeling that way.
But it was this quote that made me realize how skewed a sight and selective a vision I had.
Maybe I had only acknowledged the existence of others by directly looking at them.
But maybe because I had narrow sight and limited vision, my perception of them were neither accurate nor complete.
As such, maybe I could not fully believe what I was seeing in them – is it real or are they merely creations of my imagination?
And maybe because I could not trust my senses, I could not be sure of my existence.
So, when I found this quote, I decided to try not to look at those around me to find differences, but instead look in the direction they are looking and search for common objects I could see with them.
Maybe I alone still have narrow sight and limited vision, but maybe so do others.
But maybe if we all look the same way, we can find some overlap in our sight and vision, and find the same things in our shared field of view.
And maybe by knowing that we have something in common, we can feel acceptance and love towards one another’s existence.
Then, maybe we will all look the same way… with smiles on our faces in one another’s company.
When I hear of incidents of intolerance in our world today, I think that maybe we are only looking at each other and finding differences. But maybe if we look in the same direction, we can find some common values and wishes – maybe safe places to go home to, warm meals to nourish us, family and friends to love and be loved by, and a peaceful world in which all these can be provided.
Even if we cannot find a single common thing, at least we will look the same way… with our jaws dropped in astonishment, when we see that there is more, so much more, to the world than just them and us.
Maybe it will take enormous effort and unthinkably long time to get our sight and vision aligned in the same direction. But when we finally do, maybe we will be able to recognize potential conflicts and resolve and reconcile them before they arise, and regard the world as being filled with love and peace. Maybe this is one way we could all look the same.
I wish to send my prayers and cast these flowers into the pearly waters where we have stopped looking at each other for retribution and started looking in the same direction for reconciliation… may we give thought to all we have lost in our past conflict, and hope that, going forward, we will work together to gain love and peace between us and around the world.
A last note: American actress C.F., you will forever be with us in our minds… I am quite certain I am not the only one who loves to dream about seeing, and being in, the world you lived in as a kick-ass princess!