Birthday “Presence”

This “in the moment” theme has come up a lot lately. Like someone out there is really trying to tell me something. I have written a lot about it in theory, but the practice part certainly needs work. That’s why events of this past weekend were meaningful. There was a shift.

This weekend was my wife Deborah and sister in law Lori’s birthday. So I decided to just go with it. Actually I didn’t really decide. I just did it. And that’s the curious part…it just happened.

Deborah wanted to do a few things, and then go on to her sister’s neighbourhood BBQ. Normally I’d be trying to influence the course of events. Some might call it control. But not on this day.

First stop was the leather store for my wife to get supplies for her purse making. I just sat in the car and did nothing. Normally I’d be climbing the walls.

Second stop was the pharmacy where they were having some sort of make-up event. Not only did I take here there, I went in with her and actually participated. Well not the make-up part, but I had a few snacks, got a henna tattoo, and watched the event unfold. Not another guy in sight! I somehow resisted the urge that there was somewhere else I had to be.

Third stop was the BBQ. Mostly people I had never met. Normally this would be anxiety inducing for me. But this time I didn’t feel I had to talk to anyone. I didn’t feel I had to introduce myself or make an impression. I didn’t feel I really had to do anything. My mind wasn’t racing with thoughts of the past. Nor was it pre-occupied with figuring out next steps. So I just watched, and listened. And kept my mind blank. I was happy just to be.

What the hell is going on here?

Deborah is really good at going with the flow…perhaps some of that is rubbing off. And perhaps all the theory is somehow starting to translate into practice. I hope it’s here to stay. I do feel at some level that there is so much for me to learn and enjoy from being present. That must be why I keep getting these universal reminders–sort of like sticky notes for my soul.

Then I came across this piece by Richard Rohr. Another message. And definitely a sign that I should keep it up:

“The word “Buddha”  means “I am awake.” To be awake is to be fully conscious. The Buddhists sometimes call it “object-less consciousness”; I might  just call it “undefended knowing.” It is a consciousness where we are not conscious of anything in particular but everything in general. It is a panoramic receptive awareness—whereby you take in all that the moment offers  without eliminating anything or attaching to anything. You just watch it pass.

This does not come naturally to us, surely not in our  culture. We have to work at it. All forms of meditation and contemplation teach  some form of compartmentalizing or limiting the control of the mental ego—or  what some call the “monkey mind,” which just keeps jumping from observation to observation, distraction to distraction, feeling to feeling, commentary to commentary. Most of this mental action means very little and is actually the opposite of consciousness. In fact, it is unconsciousness. It is even foolish to call it “thinking” at all, although educated people tend to think their self-referential commentaries are  high-level thinking.”

6 thoughts on “Birthday “Presence”

  1. Good for you! I need to work on this as well…stop worrying about trying to control the day and it’s course of events…just let it be and if plans get off-track, so be it.

  2. Sounds like you’re getting back on track J! I’m happy for you, and I’m sure your wife definitely appreciated your full presence on her birthday. It’s the little things that mean so much and bring joy. Thank you for sharing a personal story so that we can all remember to cherish the moment. 🙂

  3. Jonathan, a great story. Yes, your time at the bbq sounds just like being in the moment to me. Social settings can be especially tough- wanting to mingle, seeking to sound witty or smart, not really listening to the other person- much anxiety often. But when you are there in the way that you were, you feel strong, and ready, open to what comes. “Happy just to be.”


  4. Jonathan, enjoyed the description of your “presence” day. It is amazing the things we can simply observe and enjoy if we are open to them. I must say that the phrase “sticky notes for my soul” captured me. I appreciate those “show it” phrases and this one is a winner! Thanks too for the kind comment and follow, it is how I find so many others who all seem to be on the path to wholeness. When I began I had no idea how many others were on the same journey, traveling from all corners, heading to the same destination. It gives me hope for the greater peace.


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