What Does “Being Present” Look Like?

Annah ElizabethHappiness, Healing and the Two Sides of, Loss, Grief, and Healing, SpiritualityLeave a Comment

“We’re a species that rushes through everything, then complains that time flies.”

~ Steve Maraboli

This morning, as I walked a dog currently in my care, I felt myself becoming a little frustrated because moving with this almost sixteen-years-old fella is more like a meander than a stroll, and a crawl’s pace compared to my usual, brisk-paced, mile-and-a-half walk.

As I watched this sweet canine pause to smell every blade of grass, every pinecone, every dried up leaf, I began reflecting a little more deeply about what “being present” looks like.

This experience started me pondering about HOW I am being present.

Wherever I am in my movements, I notice the emerging daffodil stalks and the tiny purple flowers in the sidewalk’s cracks; the wind brushing my face and the sound it makes against my ears…

I once spotted two men in a boat on a river in the dead of an upstate New York winter, as the car I was a passenger in whisked by. Mid-sentence, I declared “Oh, look! There’s two men in a boat!”

People from my former life would laugh and make fun of me. They nicknamed me “Squirrel.” They would joke that I disappeared when we were traveling or sightseeing together. At times, people in my life would become frustrated because I was slowing everyone down. Inevitably, they would find me paused, capturing the light on a flower, a rod iron gate leading to a private garden, an exquisite piece of artistry in a window display…

Strolling on the beach with a friend in CA, I once apologized for being so distracted after I pointed out the hundredth unique detail that caught my eye.

“I think that just means you’re being present,” she said.

I have thought about her perspective and that moment so many times.

I would rather spend an hour “being present” in a museum and soak in a small part of it, rather than race through just to say I did it all.

I have always recognized that my ability to see so many details in scenarios and surroundings can be a curse, as it often makes it hard to stay focused.

But now, with positive support from this friend, I no longer feel ashamed of that trait and I can also embrace the gifts in it.

Last year, when the friend I spent a week traveling with in Scotland had seen all she cared to see of the 5,000+ years-old Calanais Stones, I returned her to the city and our rental and then I made the half hour drive back to this sacred spot, where I stayed until dark. I took in as many cracks, crevices, and hues of the thirteen central stones, as well as those north, south, east, and west of them. My traveling companion and I were both happy and I, for one of the first times in my life, did not feel guilty for wanting to take my time.

Today’s walk with Wesley led me to go in search of quotes about “being present” and “stopping to smell the roses”–or in Wesley’s case, the pinecones.

That is where I discovered the Steve Mariboli quote at the begining of this post. And I realized something profound about how I move through life…

When I am enjoying the company of others, truly connecting and being present with them, I have commneted how time seems to stand still.

I am oblivious to much of what is happening around us. It is as if I am hyper-focused.

But when I am alone, I am more often than not taking in everything as I move at breakneck speed. I still see the soft tendrils of the cedar tree and their trunks’ flaking bark; the “Welcome” signs and wreaths on doors, lawn ornaments, birdsong and breezes…and… time flies!

That is one of the reasons Steve’s quote resonated so profoundly with me. I do sometimes find myself lamenting how time seems to be flying by.

As I like to say, “When you bump up against a theme or topic you thought you had mastered, it doesn’t mean you previously failed; it simply means you are now adding depth and dimension to the learning you have already done.”

This morning’s experiences is an invitation to reflect on what “being present” looks like to me and I am pondering a middle ground…how I can make more time stand still, or in other words, how I can be both present and productive…

Join me on the journey, Neighbor?

Until next time… I see you. I feel you. I believe in you!

With love,


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