Since my book Living a Committed Life was published and the pandemic declared over, I’ve been out and about traveling, speaking, and meeting new people in the U.S. and abroad. It’s been such a joy, but in the process, I caught a cold and just had to stop. Resting for a couple of days gave me the opportunity to think about the challenges now of living in two parallel universes: the online world and the in-person world.
In some ways, life was simpler during the pandemic when our work and social interactions took place online, and we didn’t have to get fully dressed up or face all the work involved in traveling. Now, most of us are back into our lives with a new fervor, a new eagerness to be out and about — to be physically together with colleagues, friends, and family. But the online world is still there, just as robust as ever, calling us to continue to participate in all manner of Zoom calls, webinars, and podcasts.
Living in both the old online world and the new offline world takes an enormous amount of time, and most of us are feeling greatly time-deprived. So we are in a challenging new relationship with time and presence.
The state of being present is really at the heart of living a spiritual life – or even a satisfying life. Can we give others and ourselves the gift of being completely aware and fully open to this moment in time? This is what we strive for in meditation, but it is just as important in our daily lives.
I have two offerings to make to those of you who, like me, are struggling with a commitment to be present. I have discovered that if you are fully focused on one thing and doing it completely, time is actually no longer an issue. When you really do something well – maybe even two steps farther than just done – it gives you a whole new burst of energy. Even if a parade of other to-dos awaits you, you feel a sense of satisfaction and readiness for more. If you are 100% present with one person, listening with all your mind and heart, you create a connection that energizes you both. Doing one or two things like that during a day calms the mind and settles the soul.
A second path to presence is being in Nature. This is probably no surprise, but how often do we talk ourselves out of this amazing, healing balm with flimsy excuses: “Oh, I don’t have time to take a walk,” Oh, the weather is iffy,” Oh, I don’t know where to go…” Yet when we find ourselves in the glorious outdoors noticing trees, flowers, and clouds and feeling our bodies soaking in the sun, air, and smells, we are transformed.
I wish for you the joys of presence. They can happen even online – during a Zoom call — or in an intense meeting when you listen fully to another. All that is required is to quiet your mind and open your heart to what is happening right now.
With love and appreciation,