A friend of the author’s works as a counselor to the obdurate, lethal men at Arkansas’s infamous Tucker Max prison. She’s well aware that most people look at her clients and see only dregs–”ugly, toothless hulks,” as she puts it–but she claims she can only see “radiant bulbs with these big lampshades blocking the light. I know they’re supposed to be ‘untreatable psychopaths,’ but I feel like, Oh, take that fright-mask off! It could come off in two seconds!” It sounds absurd, but she is remarkably successful. In her presence, the toughest nuts crack wide-open; even their wary, death-row warders let down their guards and cry. She has an x-ray vision that goes straight to the human core.
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“It’s like there’s this horribly thick suit of armor,” the author’s friend explains to him, trying to make him see it through her eyes, “and I know someone’s trapped inside, so how do I get them out?” He asks her why she even bothers. “The joy!” she says, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “Just the joy of being with people when they show up as they really are.”
If we can’t see who people really are, say possessors of the Good Eye, it’s just our ordinary eye playing tricks on us, focusing on differences and defects, blind to deeper connection. If we mistake each other for strangers, it’s just blurry vision. As with the rearview mirror that cautions Objects May Be Closer Than They Appear, we might be closer, much closer than we think.
Adapted from Field Notes on the Compassionate Life, by Marc Ian Barasch (Rodale, 2005). Copyright (c) 2005 by Marc Ian Barasch. Reprinted by permission of Rodale Press.
Adapted from Field Notes on the Compassionate Life, by Marc Ian Barasch (Rodale, 2005).