By wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we knocked down all sorts of barriers. The key one being forced to look into a person's eyes to find out who they really are. I wrote about this on a previous post, noting that it had been something that we have done less and less as people have relationships through their phones. Fast forward into the age of selfies and we've probably become even more obsessed with a person's appearance. I'm not sure it is really new but when I grew up the superficiality of the way a person looked superseded their essence, their nature, their core being. A friend I made during the pandemic, showed me how much I have changed where I look -- and, yes, it's all due to that mask. Instead of focusing on his appearance, which was now guarded by the mask, I found myself focused on him -- his ideas, his comments, his feelings. How honest he was when someone hurt him ("I hate her") or his fears about anti-Asian attacks ("I'm afraid of going outside") and the realities about office politics ("They are cutting more and more people out with more rules."). But most of all, it was his soul that permeated through his eyes. The old saying that "the eyes are the windows to the soul" never rang truer for me. One day, he was rearranging his mask and it suddenly dawned on me that I had never seen his face. Had I, it probably would have distracted me. I would have "seen" his entire face -- and "missed" his eyes, the portal to his inner being. He carries himself like an ancient scholar, thoughtful, gentle and poised. He floats as he walks -- something he said others have told him when I pointed it out. There's no rushing nor pushing of his energy, just a calm stride through life. Would I have noticed those attributes without a mask? Would I have truly listened to him? Would I have heard him? Or seen his soul?