“The present is a gift” – we’ve all heard that before right? I believe the formal saying goes “ the past is history, the future is a mystery, and the present is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present”. I remember thinking in the past that that phrase was cheesy and not very profound at all but I found myself meditating on this very thought recently when I was feeling under the weather. I had to take it easy and really slow down; That meant that all productivity came to a sudden halt. This period of time consisted of a lot of resting and nurturing my body to the best of my ability. There was no use in thinking about all of the things that I had to get done because there was nothing I could do about it at the time. The only decision I had to make was “do I want to binge-watch my show in the bedroom or the living room today?” Then it hit me one day as I was lying there, still unable to get up and tackle my to-do list: “wow, I have been present this entire time”.
It dawned on me in that very moment that I had actually forgotten what it meant to be present – in the moment – until that very moment. There was no scrolling through my phone mindlessly on and off for hours, there was no “oh, I have to call this person!” or, “I have to run these errands!” or “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” or “I have to make a decision by this time next week or the world will end!” It turns out that there are several definitions of what it “means” to be present but I will share one that I recently came across (Googled *ahem): “Being present means being fully conscious of the moment and free from the noise of internal dialogue. It is often associated with feelings of stillness and peace.” I don’t know about you but when I read that I instantly began to evaluate my level of presence in the day-to-day. I quickly realized that more often than not, I am somewhere else completely when I should be right here. It can be so, so tragically easy to think about other things, constantly… things you need to get done, goals you want to reach, things you want to do before a, b, c….and so on and so forth. I should clarify that there are nothing wrong with to-do lists, or goals, or desires to accomplish “x” or travel before certain milestones in life. There is, however, something heartbreaking about not giving our undivided attention to our loved ones, or listening only half-heartedly to our friend who is facing her most difficult season yet, or under-performing in our career because, even if it’s just for today, we wish we were somewhere else.
So, friend. When was the last time you were free from the noise of your internal dialogue? Because guess what, your presence matters. The world needs it, your family longs for it and your friends would probably say that their lives are better because of it. Let’s not look back and experience remorse because we know we didn’t try as hard as we could have, or have no recollection of what everyone was laughing about at the dinner table, or regret being on our phones a little too much while visiting with our parents and grandparents or – wonder what it would have been like to be in the moment more often. I know we all know this but life is short. Squeeze the ones you love, giggle longer and louder with the little ones (while they’re still little) , greet your neighbors, say “hi” to the person walking by, and call your parents if you can because, my friend, your presence is important.