A picture says a thousand words. How many do a few seconds of real life say?

From: http://www.flickr.com/photos/louobedlam/3097235253/

I work in an office. An office in which my only window to the world for several hours a day is a door that leads to a hallway. And everyday, as I sit at my desk doing secretarial things, I see people walk by. Even the slowest walkers only take a second to walk past. And for most people, unless they come into the office, or pace up and down the hall with a baby or on the phone, that one second is all I know about them. Whatever expression they have on their face at the precise moment they walk past my door, whatever they decide to say to the person on the other end of the phone in those brief moments, is the only thing I will likely ever know about them.

A girl walked by my office last week who had the saddest expression. It was there framed by the door one second and then gone the next. I don’t know that I would even recognize the girl if I saw her again, but I remember the expression. I hope that in the moments of internal thought as she walked to class, or her car, or work, or lunch that she was thinking of something quite sad, because it must have been something quite sad to precipitate such a look. But I hope it was not something integral to her life. That this sadness only lies on the periphery. That she doesn’t feel like that all the time. I don’t know her, so I can hope for her.

Sometimes I wonder what I look like when I walk between classes. Often those are the only moments I get to myself. I’m either hyper-observant or completely engrossed in thought. What do others see when they look at me in these unguarded moments where I feel like I am completely isolated among a sea of thousands? Of the handful that actually look at me, how much can they know about me from those few seconds? How much do I reveal. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about ever since I saw the girl with the sad expression. An expression she likely wouldn’t show many people, but allowed to come through when she thought no one else was looking. I wonder…

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2 thoughts on “A picture says a thousand words. How many do a few seconds of real life say?

  1. I was thinking about the same thing the other day. It's always amazing to me how many of my emotions and thoughts I show on my face when I'm caught unawares. It's a little disconcerting too, I think, but it's also good, because it manifests my human-ness, I think.

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