Day 32: Jarin

See See Motor Coffee Co, 10:45 AM

I approach her because I'm attracted to her.

"Excuse me."

She turns her head, smiles, and takes her earbuds out.

"I'm going to ask you to do something a bit unusual... Will you make eye contact with me for 60 seconds?"

Without missing a beat she consents with an enthusiastic "sure." 

I sit down across from her.

"When I start the timer: no looking away, no talking."

"Can I blink?"

"Yes, you can blink and breathe."

"I'm ready when you are," she says as she takes a sip of coffee.


Shortly after we start she sits back in her chair with her hands in her lap. This draws my awareness to how forward my posture is. I focus on deep, steady breathing. Halfway through she adjusts her hair. I feel like I get into the zone with her, where my brain turns off, the voice quiets, and I'm wordlessly perceiving her. During our session she takes two sips of coffee.


I say something about next time asking my participant to not drink coffee. Not sure if I will actually do that, or how important it is.

I give her a card and introduce myself. Her name is Jarin.

"May I use your name and photograph on my blog where I'm writing about my experiences?"

Again she says "sure" with no hesitation.

"Any questions before I disappear?"

"Nope. That was interesting."

"I'm glad you think so. I enjoyed making eye contact with you."

I stand up to leave.

"Have a lovely day. May it be filled with surprises."

Could / Can / Let's

Sometimes when I am telling people about LMEC I will say things like "we could do it" or "we can do it" as a way of suggesting to the other person that, even though they aren't a stranger and I won't count our session towards my daily requirement, I'm still willing to make eye contact with them, if they're willing.

I'm going to stop saying "could" and "can" and instead say "let's do it" because I want to do it. I'm not going to wait for them to say "yeah, let's!" when that's simply what I already know I want. So let's just do it.

Day 31: Paul

I'm at the standing bar in Tasty n Alder waiting for my food. I look to my left and there's a guy waiting for his food, just using his phone.

Without contemplating if I "should" ask him, or how, I just do it.

"Hey. I'm going to ask you to do something unusual. While you wait, will you make eye contact with me for 60 seconds?"

"Uh... Sure!"

"Cool. When we start: no looking away and no talking. I have a timer."

"Oh, wow, you really do have a timer." "Can you tell me why we're doing this?"

"After we're done. OK, ready? Here we go."

We begin. Almost immediately...

"Can we talk at the same time?"


A few seconds later...

"Can I talk?"


I smile.

He smiles and laughs throughout the session. It seems like more than a minute to me. Still, I enjoy it a lot.

We're done. He asks which eye I was looking at. "Your left, and then your right," I answer. He says he was looking at my left eye.

I give him a card. I answer his "why" question. I introduce myself and he introduces himself as Paul.

He says he was laughing, at least in part, because his lunch companion, who was outside on a business call, saw what we were doing when he looked in the window, and was perplexed. Paul has a good story to share with him.

We have a really pleasant conversation. Paul's companion returns, and I move to a seat at the bar.

I was feeling a bit unmotivated this morning and had some negative self-talk going on. Now, though? I'm super-charged.

Thanks, Paul!

Welcome to Season 2!

Hey, it's Monday, which means Let's Make Eye Contact is back!

Welcome to Season 2!

This season will take place in Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA and will run for 30 days.

Same premise as Season 1, however, a few tweaks:

1. This time I have nice cards to give to people from the get-go.

2. I am going to avoid introducing this as an experiment. Instead, I'm just going to ask people to make eye contact with me.

3. I will attempt to write less per post, focusing only on the most important aspects of each interaction.

Here we go!

End of Season 1

Yesterday was Day 30, the last day, of Let's Make Eye Contact.

The initial experiment is over. Let's look at some stats:

Days Elapsed: 30

Days Skipped: 2 (i.e. days on which I did not approach anyone)

Bonus Days: 3 (i.e. days on which I approached multiple people)

People Approached: 31

Daytime Approaches: 17

Dusk Approaches: 5

Night Approaches: 9

Indoor Approaches: 19

Outdoor Approaches: 12

I approached people in bars, restaurants/cafes/diners, coffee shops, on a ferry, on the street/sidewalk, at the beach/waterfront, at the climbing gym, in my house, and in my office.

All approaches were done in Victoria BC (25), on a boat (1), and in Portland (5).

I was rejected by 4 people.

I made eye contact with 27 people.

I made eye contact with 2 people (Brittany, Lindsey) who were not a strangers. I did not write about these encounters on the blog.

I also made eye contact with 1 stuffed animal.

1 participant started his own eye contact experiment and is blogging about it.

So far I have met up again with 3 participants (Jeff, Bronwyn, and Srid) after our initial meeting through this experiment.

I'm taking the weekend off. Season 2 will begin on Monday.

Day 30: Andrew

I wait until the end of the day again.

I'm at a food cart pod, grab my food, and walk around the parking lot looking for someone to ask.

I go into the little bar area and there is one guy sitting at a table using his phone and drinking a beer.

"Hey. Sorry to interrupt you. I'm going to ask you to do something unusual. Will you make eye contact with me for 60 seconds?"

"60 seconds?" he asks.

"Seems like a long time. I know. It actually goes pretty fast."

"I have a timer. Once I start the timer we won't look away."

"Can we talk?" he asks.

"No talking. Still want to do it?"

He's down. He's curious why I'm doing this, and I tell him I'll tell him after. We begin.

Our eye contact is relaxed. I smile first, about halfway through, and then he smiles. Occasionally he blinks slowly and kind of nods his head back. I try to be as open as possible while gazing at him, creating a space for him to also be open.

When the timer blinks I give him a card. He mentions how it was interesting and the eye contact can simply be observation or... Something else. Something more. We talk about that. I talk about what motivates the project. I also tell him how I made a commitment to do this daily for 30 days and he's the last one. At least, the last of the original commitment. I'm going to keep going.

He tells me how he's interested in co-opting some parts of this for himself. He's into photography and takes lots of pictures of environments and scenery but there's a barrier making it difficult for him to take pictures of people. I tell him that I experience the same thing and that's another benefit of this project: I get to ask people if I may take their photograph.

Yet another benefit is that I'm better at remembering names. After all, I practice it, intentionally, every day.

His name is Andrew.

After getting an approved photo I invite him to follow up, thank him for participating, for the conversation, and wish him a good night.

This post completes 30 days of Let's Make Eye Contact.

Writing Fatigue

I'm getting tired of writing about my experiences.

Probably the stress of other factors in my life is contributing to this feeling. Writing this blog -- at least the way I write it -- takes some time per article, usually about 20 - 30 minutes.

Another contributing factor is that I didn't do a daily post over the past few days, so I've been playing catch up. That's less fun than writing about an encounter right after it happens. It also makes it harder to remember what happened when several days have passed, and the writing isn't as good when my memory is fuzzy and I'm working on a backlog.

Though I may be a bit tired of writing I am not tired of making eye contact with people. I still really enjoy approaching people and the interactions I have with them.

Only two more encounters to go until I reach my 30 day goal! I intend to continue this experiment, and the documentation, past day 30, but the writing format will probably change.

Day 28: Phillip

I am walking to the bank and I decide -- just decide, that's it, no "maybe" or anything like that -- that I will approach someone for LMEC during this trip.

After the ATM I'm returning to work and I notice a guy smoking outside. I approach him.

I use the typical "experiment" intro. He agrees to participate. Thinking about my conversation with Jessica (who asked if she could blink) I tell him (half seriously, half jokingly) that he can blink and breathe.

He asks if he can smoke. I tell him he can.

We start. His head is kind of tilted back, like his chin is lifted. I feel like this creates an interesting posture from which to make eye contact. I recall Neil doing this. It seems to me to be more of a "studying" posture than a "connecting" posture. I feel like it puts distance between us. I notice that he's taller than me. Several times I remark to myself mentally that his eyes are brown. A few seconds in he takes a drag from his cigarette and blows it out of the right side of his mouth. It's kind of funny and we both smile a bit at this. He doesn't take another drag until right before the end of our session. I think "try to make myself as open to connection as I can" while we're making eye contact.

The timer beeps and I hand him a card. I ask if I can use his first name and picture on the blog.

"Uhhhhhhhhhhh... I don't have a picture of myself with me," he says.

I tell him I have a camera and pull it out of my pocket. "OK," he consents. (It almost seems to me like he's giving in.)

His name is Phillip. He tells me that he just shaved for the first time in years. He doesn't even recognize himself.

"This is what you look like," I tell him as I show him the picture.

We chat a little. He's an artist -- a painter -- who just moved to Portland for "his girl." He and I both like Portland a lot. I ask him if he has any questions before I go and he asks if this is for a blog, to which I say it is, and he asks if I will write down the URL, to which I say that it's on the back of the card.

Phillip is interesting to me because he's friendly and a willing participant, yet also seems to have a "whatever" attitude about this.

Thanks, Phillip, and welcome to Portland!