Today’s WordPress Daily Post challenge: what decision would you make differently if you could go back …
Since my recent visit with my sister (see ‘very present,’) I have been thinking – a lot – about presence.
Two days after my return to icy, unpredictable-but-clearly-treacherously-winter Vermont, I followed a casual impulse to walk in the woods. A few days later, shattered elbow rewired and writing mobility significantly curtailed, I wished I could go back and act on the small voice that told me not to go without my micro-spikes.
And yet… I could have fallen anywhere. It just happened to be the farthest point in early morning deserted woods on thick unrelenting ice. Even wearing those intimidating and confidence-inspiring spikes, I might have gone down. Even in company, I could have landed hard on that one bone that took the fall for the rest of me.
I can tell you exactly what was on my mind when I slipped because in that moment I was not entirely present to the walking-with-care which required my undivided attention. I had even shifted from enjoying the beauty of the quiet early morning snowfall which drew me in to start with.
Here’s what I know of presence. It leads to a fuller and richer experience as both giver and receiver. True presence is unmitigated by expectation or judgment. It is a pure opening to the moment. Whether that moment be the enveloping silence of soft mid-winter snow nestling among hemlocks, or the wrenching shock of indescribable pain. We need to embrace it all as it unfolds in our lives. This is how we grow into compassion for ourselves and one another.
These past few days I have experienced the connective and healing qualities of presence – within, certainly, but also between people. Witnessing/being witnessed through present-moments. Truly seeing one another without pretense. The absolute stripping down to what matters. Present moments. Perhaps after all I wouldn’t want to go back and re-do my hasty decision. In the aftermath of my fall, I have come to re-set my own experience of presence.
There’s always something to find in the presence (presents). The lessons we learn in mistakes, mishaps are invaluable and it’s easy to point and say “Oh I wish that hadn’t happened” but we never know what/where we would have ended up without that experience. Something I can only say after being around for awhile, not so easily acknowledged in your twenties 😉
So very true, Sara. I get the perspective. Remember Dag Hammersjkold? I had a book of his in my youth, and one of his wise sayings has always stayed with me: ‘we cannot afford to forget a single experience, even the most painful’ – paraphrased, to be sure – but formed the basis for my ideas of learning ever since. Even so, I sometimes just feel impatient b/c there’s so much I want to do and time is running so very fast ahead of me…
Time is running very fast ahead of me too–I can’t believe how fast it goes. I definitely empathize with that sentiment. And thank you for the great quote, even if it is paraphrased 🙂
Thanks, Sara – empathy is a great thing. Funny about the quotation: I copied that from his book. Were they not his own words?? I’d love the original if you can put your finger on it. Thanks!!
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