Slowly realizing being present in the present is the best present...
That is what I needed after typing and staring at that sentence for the last two minutes. It took me to a place that I don’t like to go; a place of guilt, shame, could haves, missed opportunity, and sadness.
Luckily, I am writing this alone, so the tears that are filling my eyes can be wiped away without anyone knowing.
I mean, seriously?! I don’t have time to be worrying about feelings. I don't have time to be crying. I need to be thinking about what we are doing for Christmas. I need to think about what gifts I need to buy for everyone. I need to think about how I am going to budget those gifts. I need to think about how I can serve others this holiday season.
On top of that, I need to be reflecting on my past and how I can make changes to benefit my future. I need to think about how I am going to put food on the table. I need to think about what "honey do" I need to complete next. I need to think about how I am going to run the Cub Scout Den meeting. I need to think about our financial future. I need to think about how I can be a better man of God. I need to think about…
I have so many excuses, so many things to be thinking about and working on. No matter what stage we are in life, we all have things we need to be thinking about. We all have excuses for why we are not present in the present. And yet, sometimes we need to be reminded that the best present we can give ourselves and others is being present in the present.
How can being present in the present be the best gift to someone else?
Take an incident that happened recently. My son, Tyler, came to me and said, “Dad! I got on gold AGAIN!” Gold is like the crème de la crème of the behavior chart at his school, and as Ron Burgundy might say, ‘It’s kind of a big deal!’ In that moment, I needed to be present and respond accordingly, because he was proud. He felt accomplished, and he felt like he had done something that would make me proud.
If I was not present and was consumed with thoughts about everything else that needed to be done at that moment, I could have crashed his excitement. Instead, I needed to be present. I needed to hear what he said. In this case, I was able to allow heartfelt joy to take over. In this moment, I was able to puff his chest by words of affirmation and give him a pat on the back.
That was my present, and it was very well received, because his strut got a little wider, the high five was a little harder, and the smile on his face got a bit bigger. If I was not present and thinking instead about what I needed to do for the Cub Scout meeting, my words and actions would have in turn had a negative impact and turned into a really sucky gift.
The gift of your presence is just as important during times of trials as it is during times of triumphs. To illustrate this point, check out this scene from Inside Out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5Q2dah75Zc). Joy's mind was not focused on the present, but rather on catching a train. Sadness, on the other hand, was present and listened which resulted in Bing Bong getting one hell of a nice gift.
So as you enter this holiday season, remember, it’s not always what you are going to give someone, but what you can give them during the here and the now. It’s taking the time to give a little more attention, to be a little more attentive, and to be a little more giving of your time.
How can being present in the present be the best gift to yourself?
Tonight, I sat at my computer to write this article, after thinking about it for the past couple of days. I open up a Microsoft Word document to begin writing, and I hear my 18 month old daughter standing next to me saying, “Da”. I must admit I have gotten so used to hearing that word that the first time she said it, it went in one ear and out the other. Then again, “Da!” This time I glanced over. When I did, I saw two big, beautiful blue eyes staring at me. I looked at my wife and said, with a chuckle in my voice, “if I am going to write an article about being in the present, I better be in the present.”
I asked my daughter if she wanted me to turn on some music so she could dance. Of course she nodded her head in an up and down motion to cue me to play Silento’s – Watch Me. Within moments we all were smiling, laughing, and basking in the moment. I cannot express the feelings in words that consumed me while watching our daughter dance and shake. Towards the end of the song, she motions for me to pick her up. Being drunk on love and present in that moment, I scoped her up and sat her on my lap.
I have to admit, that moment, that now, was a gift for me! Without being present in the present, I would have not been gifted with that seemingly simple and absolutely amazing moment. Being present is the best present you can receive, because it leads to moments you can learn from, grow from, and reflect on.
I am slowly realizing that being present in the present is the best present. As we enter this holiday season, I ask you to keep my words in mind. You never know what unwrapped presents are awaiting to be opened if you just take the time.
For the month of December, we will be celebrating the holidays with our 12 Days of Christmas. Be sure to check back for a new holiday piece by a new contributor.
Colby Ross is a super-duper, awesome father of three even more super-duper, awesome kiddos. He and his wife reside in the Metro-East area.
Writer's Note: Finally, thank you to Ali Schmeder-Cummins for giving me the opportunity to write. I hope you all enjoy and will continue to follow her, as she is one fantastic blogger.