"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What is it about Eye Contact? And Plumbing?

First off, special super thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith for her fantastic post on my presentation from last Saturday! I'm not sure why all the photos from the event turned out orange, but as a lesson to take with me, I shouldn't wear an orange shirt to the Westlake Barnes & Noble.

I've been working on the beginning of something new in the last few days, and, at one point, two of the character's eyes met. Sure, this is something we use all the time in writing, but it really got me thinking about the actual power behind eye contact.

I remember a time when this first struck me. My dog was about a year old. I was in college. And I was sitting on my bed studying. And like she always was, my dog was by my side. I looked over at her, and the second our eyes MET, she started wagging her tail.
So I decided to test it.
I looked away. Tail stopped wagging.
I looked back at her eyes. Tail wagged.
Looked at the top of her head. Tail stopped wagging.
Somehow, this tiny dog knew the power behind actual eye contact.

Same thing happened when I had a baby. From probably seven weeks old, as soon as my eyes would actually meet my baby's eyes, he'd start smiling. If I looked toward his face, but did not meet his eyes, he wouldn't smile.

Is eye contact some powerful, instinctual thing? How do we know when someone else has actually met our eyes? Can you tell if someone is looking at your eyelids and not your eyes?
As soon as someone gets home, I'm testing it.

So how does all this relate to plumbing? Good question. It doesn't. But I found my solution for those times when you hit a slump during the day.
Go fix something.
OK, it doesn't have to be plumbing, but in my case, yesterday, it was.
I'd hit my end for the afternoon. I needed to get away from the computer. I felt low on energy. So I got the wrench and fixed the sink which had been building a slow clog for the last 15 years.


Sheri said...

First, I just want to say, I read all the links and links to links about your speech and... if I thought I was bummed before that I couldn't attend... now I'm really upset. The timing of hearing your speech would have been perfect for me as you know my new thing is goal setting - thanks to you, of course!

Maybe the orange coloring is your aura... I think orange means wealth and fame. (OK I don't really know anything about auras, but you never know... you do seem to be glowing...)

My dogs do this too when our eyes meet! You're so right. Even animals can recognize this connection... I think when someone looks into your eyes, it feels like they are really seeing you.

I know this is getting long, but I have to share this with you... When my mother died, something strange, unexplainable, and powerful happened to me. It was after the burial and we were all at my sister's house. I was talking to one of my mother's best friends when all of a sudden I felt my mother's presence. I felt her in me. It was strange and I thought to myself, it's just grief, but it felt like her light was shining through my eyes and again, I told myself, I was just exhausted and incredibly sad and desperately wanting her back, so I tried to dismiss it. But my mother's friend all of a sudden stood straighter and said... Oh my G-d I could swear I just saw your mother in your eyes, it was like she was shining through your eyes. I grabbed onto her and I said, I know I felt it too.

It was beyond words and if the friend hadn't said something, I would have just passed the moment by. But I think the eyes perhaps, really are the windows to our souls, even if those souls are doggy-souls.

Oh... plumbing! You crack me up - so multi-talented!

Jim D said...

I admire your adventurous spirit of fixing things!

A pipe wrench -- must have been major surgery on the P-trap.

Interesting about the eye contact. And Sheri, thanks for sharing your story.

Jim D

PJ Hoover said...

Man, Sheri, you gave me huge goose bumps! Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful story!!! I love it. Not to mention it is really so amazing. And I just reread it again and got the goose pimples all over!
And I love the orange aura thing. I'll have to look it up!

The P-trap was clear, Jim. I took it off but found the giant hair glob hanging onto the end of the drain stopper thingy. (Is that technical lingo?) I have to admit when I took the P-trap off and it was clear, I was surprised. I expected a major tarred up mass stuck in there.

TJ Brown said...

I'm glad the talk went well. And I think eye contact is so important. Even if it's between strangers and their eyes meet only to avoid bumping into one another. Without saying a word, one person moves one way and the other moves the the other way. A brief method of communication.

PJ Hoover said...

Wouldn't it be fun to make random eye contact with strangers, Teri? It is exactly like a brief method of communication!

keri mikulski :) said...

Wow! The eye contact thing made me start thinking... Powerful stuff. :) Good luck with the plumber stuff. :)

And Sheri - Great story. It gave me chills.

PJ Hoover said...

I know, Keri! The eye contact thing really does make you think, doesn't it. And Sheri's story is so way cool!

Sheri said...

Yeah, it makes you wonder - the world is a huge place with so much unexplained. Who knows what is possible?

I guess that's what attracts us to being writers...

Tabitha said...

Yay PJ!! :) Goals and time management are such an important part of writing, but no one ever thinks or talks about it. Good for you for doing so. :)

Eye contact is such a powerful thing. You can say so much with just a look, and you can say so much by choosing not to look. I'm curious how your investigation went. :)

PJ Hoover said...

The world is great, Sheri! I agree. Love the unexplained.

Funny, Tabitha! My husband knew when I was not meeting his eyes. It's like this really amazing phenomenon. And I find goals help so much in writing. From daily word count goals to finished manuscript goals. There's always something to work toward!

Lenore said...

That puppy is just too too cute!

beth said...

Eye contact is an amazing thing...I think I'm going to try your experiment with my dog now, too...

I also do the physical labor thing when I get mentally stuck. Usually, this involves me cleaning the house. I hate cleaning, and I just let it pile up while working on my book. Recently, it got so bad that the dust bunnies were tumbleweed blowing down the hall, and we started eating off napkins because I'd not washed dishes in forever. Then when I get stuck, I do a massive clean up. Unfortunately, once I finish cleaning, I usually start writing again and the cycle continues!!

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Lenore! She's a handful! But lovable.

I want a maid, Beth. Someone who takes care of all those dust bunnies who love hardwood floors. I keep thinking if I get those ducts cleaned, the dust will go away.
Yardwork works well for me also except in the summer when it's like 100 degrees everyday.

Thanks for visiting!