On Being Present

“Going nowhere … isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.”

hazy bridge

Gotta say, this has been a busy week. Uncomfortably so.

Not that that’s unusual; life ebbs and flows that way for all of us. But today I noticed something about the way I handle the hubbub — and I really didn’t like it.

In the middle of the day’s chaos, I squeezed in time to go pick up some lunch to bring back to the office so I could eat at my desk. I’d just tossed my food into the passenger seat and settled into the car to return to work when my younger son called. As we chatted, my brain moved ahead to what I still needed to do with the remainder of my day (and tomorrow. And next week. And…). When the conversation ended, I tossed my phone into my purse. But for some reason, I froze. It was then that it dawned on me: I couldn’t remember a thing my son had just said. Not a single thing.

And then I had a much deeper realization: I don’t listen.

Or, to put it another way, I’m not present.

I had tuned in to my son enough to progress the conversation, but I wasn’t really there. As I chewed on that thought, I also knew I’d done this before. Several times.

As the guilt and frustration set in, I sat in my car and cried. Am I really SO busy that I can’t slow things down or come to a stop when I’m supposed to be listening to someone?

When I got home tonight, I remembered that I’d flagged an article on twitter that I’d wanted to read later. It talks about presence and the “art of stillness.” Boy, was it timely. Click here to read in its entirety. But here’s the free prize inside:

“It’s only by taking myself away from clutter and distraction that I can begin to hear something out of earshot and recall that listening is much more invigorating than giving voice to all the thoughts and prejudices that anyway keep me company twenty-four hours a day. And it’s only by going nowhere — by sitting still or letting my mind relax — that I find that the thoughts that come to me unbidden are far fresher and more imaginative than the ones I consciously seek out.”

So there you have it. My charge, my goal, my ideal: quiet mind, open ear, peaceful spirit.

Life is short enough as it is. Living with a finger pressing the fast forward button is a waste of the now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.