Truly Look Into One Another’s Eyes

‘Lay bare our souls’? Yes it’s strange. We socialize, live and toil side by side: companions, lovers, colleagues, childhood friends and yet we know so infinitesimally little about each other and so seldom see each other. Truly look into one another’s eyes. And we’re so fearful whenever it happens. I’ve attempted to change this over the years and try to look into other people’s faces, make a conscious effort to meet their gaze to see what is going on, but also because I desire reality, intensity, life, which is something to do with the fact that I’m getting older, and was as you know, sixty last autumn, and I want everything to be real, tangible. I don’t want to squander the time I have left on sleepwalking through life.

–Fredrik Eklund, Home and Away (p 20)

What do you do when you don’t look someone in the eye?
You defend yourself.
Against what?
Well, against life, of course.
It is so damned hard to live.
Nothing of what you’ve written so far has given me greater pleasure than what you said about life having to be real, genuine, alive, intense and how you have started looking in people’s eyes in a different way from before. Something opening, not closing. You want to keep the world open. You want to appreciate what is in it. Because you know you don’t have long left. Then it is over. Then it is no more and there will never be anything more. It is only now, and it is now or never.
Nevertheless, I look down, I hide.
I don’t initiate conversations with people on places, I hardly ever talk with my neighbours, and if I do it is the intention of getting away, which of course they notice because it is reflected in your body language.

–Karl One Knausgaard, Home and Away (p 31)

A Revelation

Just for today, I will adjust myself and not try to manipulate the situation.

I think about all the time I spent vigilant, preoccupied, trying to decipher my mother’s relationship with Marcus, Lucy’s relationship with alcohol. It had never occurred to me to that both situations were whatever they were, whether I figured them out or not. And it certainly never crossed my mind that my reaction — my suffering — was mine: something I had come up with, not something I needed to blame on anyone else.

My job is to interpret, and to communicate my interpretation persuasively to other people. The idea that in life, unlike in writing, the drive to analyze and influence might be something worth relinquishing was to me a revelation.

–Ariel Levy, The Rules Do Not Apply (p 188)