Thursday, June 12, 2014

Day CXXV: Eyes

I had the oddest experience at yoga yesterday.

It was a gorgeous morning, one of those picturesque and expansive mornings that stretch above and beyond you forever and ever and ever. The sky was blue, but not yet brilliant, muted by the early chorus of birds and softened light. A quick bike ride from my home to the lake was all the time it took for the sounds and sights of the day to coalesce into a shimmering mass of life. 

Of course, I was late. Just a minute or two. I casually rolled out my mat and eased into a downward-dog, simultaneously reaching into the still air and pressing into the earth beneath my palms. The instructor slowly walked us through a rotation of excellent positions, rotations, stretches, and stances. As we flowed through the practice, we eventually came into a Warrior II position.

I was looking out and over my middle finger, staring intently at a tree just across Harriet. The instructor had been meandering through the group of yogis all morning long, reminding us to breathe, where to focus, what to feel. In the middle of describing Warrior II, she was next to me. After asserting where our feet should be positioned, she calmly brushed a hand near the crease of my left temple and said to me, to everyone, "soften the eyes."

I was working at a coffee shop at thirteen, busing dishes and washing tables for a small joint on main street. It was the first time I was complimented for my eyes. I remember it so clearly, sitting in that little alcove on the leftmost window. Emily Mcclung helping me shift a table to the right and telling me how pretty they looked. I'd never thought much of anything about my eyes, which were hidden behind the worst looking glasses for most of my youth, and perhaps that's why her remark has lingered with me for so long.

An old boyfriend called them "mischievous." Another: "ojazos." A coworker: "sly."

Most recently: "dem eyes doe"

To "soften" the eyes is not in my immediate repertoire. Years of overthinking and reading and, of course, Top Model have conditioned my eyes to default to intensity. To feeling, to interpreting.

Of all the things I've gained from yoga, a different look for my eyes is not one I imagined for that list. Maybe this is a chance at something new, a unique approach to the eyes, to the "windows of the soul."

And while the intensity they hold is sure to stay, maybe a more frequent softness will find its way into my daily life.

I guess we'll just have to see.

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