The Opposite of Presence.
I don’t know about you, but I can get buried in my work, addicted to the everyday busyness of my life. If I’m not careful, my attention becomes scattered, and I soon forget to pay attention to what (and who) is in front of me. I don’t believe I’m alone.
In fact, I think where we put our attention is one of the great challenges of our modern times—how well we focus, lean in, and listen. How much we can be there for one another.
Long ago, I was gifted with the opportunity to be in the presence of the Dalai Lama. Beyond his love and lightness of being, the quality I most noticed in him was his undivided presence. When I briefly spoke to him, his whole being was giving me attention. He seemed distracted by nothing else. He was dignified and devoted in how he offered his attention. His presence was his gift—a present from his heart.
I believe we have come to a point in our journey where we can finally simplify our lives so that we might amplify our presence—to let those in our lives know that they are seen, heard, and loved. The wisest people I know are present in virtually everything they do.
The opposite of presence is absence. There are many reasons we’re absent with each other: multi-tasking, preoccupied with our own challenges, distracted by our smartphones, etc. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it also makes our societal bond grow weaker. When your friend was absent for you in your time of need, you’ll never forget that absence.
What if we were to simplify our lives to amplify our presence? Maybe this is the gift of elderhood?