Precious Present Sun, 31st August, 2014
Yesterday I was not absent for a change. I was actually present, giving a precious gift not only to myself but to my family.
Try as I might, it's so hard for me to be fully present—there is always a torrent of busy-ness and worries about things that are left undone. And that will never end. Putting off being present until some time when you're not so busy is tempting. But the busy-ness is a great river that flows without ceasing. Best to just turn away. It will still be there tomorrow.
It occurs to me that the opposite of busy-ness is not doing nothing, but rather is being present. And when there are no scheduled plans on the calendar, and no to-do list, the result is not boredom or silence. For me it freed me to receive gifts from others, a feast of art, music, dancing and quiet companionship.
After a quiet morning of coffee, muffins and sharing with Betsy, I had decided to spend some intentional time with my son. Since he's a quiet one, it's easy to let him recede into the background amid the busy-ness. As we sat across from each other enjoying lunch at the City Diner in Grand Center, I could fully appreciate the reality that he is no longer a boy. Thoughts are now of physics, college applications and serious violin playing.
We took in the Mildred Lane Kemper Gallery at Wash U—a first for both of us—and spent some of that silent companionate time as men often do. Owen enjoys the intellectual challenge of modern art, finding meaning and structure in abstract forms. I love the pictures I captured of him in quiet contemplation of artistic experimentation. Perhaps testing new theories, approaching art as a laboratory, appeals to his scientific nature.
Then in the evening, Betsy and I had our date night and took in an open air jazz concert in Lafayette Park. Again, I could feel that I was just present, receiving the gift of her company and connecting with the music in a way I often fail to do when my head is full of if-onlys and what-ifs. It was a multi sensory experience, with a lush green setting, the smell of moist earth, the sound of jazz, the taste of a crisp French rosé, and the feel of Betsy's hand in mind and drops of water falling from the oak above. Who would want to be anywhere else?
Then the evening ended back home with the kids where I allowed myself to be swept up in a family "no-shame dance party" that Betsy and Meredith began. We put on our favorite dance tunes from yesteryear and popular tracks from today and just lost ourselves in sound and motion. I was slow to warm to it, feeling self-conscious and out of my element.
But the biggest joy of dancing, is that you can't worry about anything else while you're doing it. Like a roller-coaster ride, it completely absorbs you, gives you an "in-the-body" experience, and is the very definition of living in the present moment.
And today I'm hoping this precious present will find its way to you, too.