Windows to the Soul

In poker, a “tell” is a change in demeanor or posture that offers insight into the kind of hand a player has. If Morgan’s eyebrow twitches at the sight of a pocket pair, it’s a tell.

Writers look for something similar in spirit as they try to depict an epiphany. Nobel Laureate James Joyce defined an epiphany as “a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself.” If I were to describe a character as standing pigeon-toed, leaning against a wall, head down, hands in pockets, you might infer that the person was shy or fearful. Good writers use a character’s body language to tell you everything you need to know about frame of mind.

Look around you today. Watch people carefully. Give some examples–without naming names or violating confidences–of epiphanies.

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15 Responses to Windows to the Soul

  1. Bill Arnoldus says:

    Eyes getting wider, mouth slightly agape, gaze softens, eyebrows slightly raise, eye contact, posture straightens, shoulders slightly raise, hands open, when realizing something.

  2. Gordon Welch says:

    Open hands and broad stance shows confidence, uneven stance and keeping your head down shows someone is uncomfortable, and putting your hands on your head during a bad play at a sporting event shows discomfort and even embarrassment.

  3. Alex White says:

    Disheveled hair, a backpack slung over one shoulder, a quick pace, and an untied shoelace all indicate a student that is late for class. Reveals anxiety and stress.

  4. Elijah Camba says:

    I think I embody epiphanies. I express my moods through body language far too much. To portray a few examples, one would portray strength through flexing their chest out, and also letting their lats form a trapezoid. They will walk around with their head up high, and make as little of elegant movement as possible.

  5. Lisa Seid says:

    Repeated clicking of the same key, furrowed eyebrows, pursed lips, impatient tapping of the foot. This all reveals our frustrations with darned technology as the deadline for podcasts slowly creeps up on us.

  6. Vishnu Gadepalli says:

    Some examples of epiphanies of someone who is confident are combed hair, clean clothes, taking time with their movements, standing tall, and not being afraid to strike up conversations.

  7. James Talamo says:

    The most interesting epiphanies are the hardest ones to notice. Often, when people or friends just are able to notice something is off with no evidence, they are noticing very minute epiphanies, because they are familiar with the person. A tense walk, a changed sitting position from the normal one, a slight change of tone in their voice, are all these minute things that go unnoticed to the normal person, but are noticed by a friend

  8. bradley kuebler says:

    Looking at other people after saying something can show that you’re wondering how everyone perceived it and perhaps mean your looking for approval from others, refusal to make eye contact could mean you’re not comfortable or confident in what you are saying or the person you are speaking to.

  9. Julia Nguyen says:

    The messy yet brushed hair, the hurried walks to class yet always making it on time, the dark circles yet bright eyes, always smiling and laughing yet socially drained, involved in almost too many extracurriculars yet always happy to be involved, the ironed clothes yet overdue laundry hamper bag, the smell of Eucalyptus and Spearmint lotion yet applied disproportionately. This is someone who takes care of themselves, but not in the right way. Since not many people tend to go on these blogs, I’ll go ahead and tell you all that this is me. I took care of myself very well before coming to MSMS, but it’s been difficult to since. I am happy with my success and my upcomings, yet I find that there is something still lacking. I am too hard on myself– but I have big shoes to fill.

  10. Mira Patel says:

    leg tapping, scrolling on instagram, leaning back in chair, hands crossed, and staring at a computer screen can show relaxation, comfort, and boredom

  11. Kadie Van says:

    Playing with gum wrappers, chewing of watermelon gum, shaking of the foot, clicking of a pencil, taking notes with no interest. A little sigh breaks out as boredom, stress, and tiredness invades.

  12. Eddie Lai says:

    Loss of socialness, sudden new fidgeting, change in speech patterns, change in breathing patterns, change in walking pace, change in posture, loss of focus, loss of interest in things they are passionate in, seeming exhausted despite being physically well/mentally exhausted, idleness, avoiding work entirely, becoming more messy, change in social interactions

  13. Gracyn Young says:

    Often, when some people are called on during class, they become nervous, especially if they don’t know the proper answer. Usually, their face reddens and you may begin to notice some bouncing of their legs or shaking of their hands, typically a sign of nervousness. When I’m nervous, I tend to stutter, and many others have tells like that too.

  14. Ava Wilson says:

    Eyes looking down, pencil and phone in hand, headphones in, complete stillness in the body except in the right arm and hand, eyes never leave the paper; complete focus in one’s work. Sitting in a chair with one knee up and one elbow on the table, chin glued to a palm, eyes looking in general direction of the screen but glossed over so you know they’re not seeing what’s in front of them, blank stare and twiddling lip with fingers; there is nothing going on in their head.

  15. Jon Kiesel says:

    Often I would begin to imagine myself standing, leaning on a desk behind me with my hands, chin up, having a cold blank stare aimed up slightly, crossed legs, and a math problem on the blackboard ahead of me. After a few foot taps and deep heavy breaths, I dart to pick up the chalk aggressively and start writing.

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