We use our imagination with respect to every man of whom we take notice when by a glance we make up our mind about him.*
But when you talk to a stranger, when you admire and respect their differences from you, when you help them you are making the world around you more malleable, creating spaces for change.**
It takes time to really see someone, not a glance but a longer second look – re-specting.
Time becomes the most precious thing we can give to each other.
Whatever else we may give and receive has to be contained within time.
A first glance will often be more about the mind; the longer second look, about the heart. Patrick Woodhouse writes about Holocaust martyr Etty Hillesum’s need to move beyond reason as a response to what was happening around her:
‘Reason alone was not enough: something else was required. Not so much the mind grasping and dealing with life through thinking, more the response of the heart simply attending to and receiving what is.’^^
When it comes to also understanding our awareness of time always involves our imaginations; Jorge Luis Borges encourages us to see how we are time:
“Time is a river that sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.^
Instead of using our imaginations to make up what we do not know about another, we can enter into shared time, a wonderful world of possibility.
(*From Wallace Stevens’ The Necessary Angel.)
(**From Kio Stark’s When Strangers Meet.)
(^Jorge Luis Borges, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Empathy is a Clock that Ticks in the Empathy of Another.)
(^^From Patrick Woodhouse’s Etty Hillesum: A Life Transformed.)