The Presence of a Toddler

Toddlers are the ultimate expression of being present…

I read an article today about the “busyness bubble” that exists in society today. The author described a world where everyone is over-worked, over-stimulated, over-committed, rushing from one place to another, distracted every two minutes by emails, texts, and Twitter and Instagram feeds on their smartphones.

This continuous busyness and distracted lifestyle hampers creativity, and prevents real human connection. There isn’t time to think beyond the next two minutes, the next errand, the next meeting.

Take a walk with a toddler. Trust me, it won’t be a long walk. Watch where they focus. Notice they aren’t worried about their smartphone (since they don’t have one). They have no destination in mind when they start their walk. They’re too busy looking at the pebbles, snail shells, and cracks in the cement to think about anything else. They have no errands to run, no meetings to attend. They aren’t worried about what they said yesterday, or what they’ll be doing tomorrow.

Toddlers are the ultimate expression of being present. Nothing interrupts their train of thought except the next shiny object in front of them. Their walk is a time of new discovery and new experiences.

Busyness is self-inflicted. It’s the result of a series of decisions that we control. Each decision makes sense at the time…or, seems like the only choice we have. We decide to pile commitments on to our schedule. We decide to worry today about next week’s deadline. We decide to dwell on injustices of the past. We decide to look at our phone every two minutes.

Don’t know any toddlers? Take that walk anyway. Leave your phone behind. Count the number of snails you see. Look for the most colorful pebbles. Take some time to smell the roses in your neighbor’s yard. Appreciate the sun’s warmth on your back.

Enjoy the clarity of being present, and enjoy the fulfillment that comes from deciding to be less busy.

The choice is yours.

The Gift of Presence

What comes after the summit? Doesn’t matter. It will be revealed when I get there.

The morning sun warms my back as a nice sea breeze cools my face.  The trail turns slightly uphill at first, and then straight uphill for a long ascent.

I hear the rhythm of my breath and my heartbeat pounding in my ears.  My shoes crunch in the dirt with each step.  The birds are chirping and I occasionally hear scurrying sounds next to the trail as I lumber past.  I sometimes hear the music playing on my iPhone…it’s AC/DC, For Those About to Rock.  Perfect for this climb.

No thoughts of the broken sprinkler that needs to be replaced in the front yard.  Nothing rolling around in my head about the project I’m starting at work.  No thoughts about the book I’m close to finishing, or my next blog post (notwithstanding this little dispatch).

What comes after the summit?  Doesn’t matter.  It will be revealed when I get there.

Being present is a gift we can give ourselves.  Undivided attention, sharp focus, and a clear mind are within our reach anytime, if we choose.

Here’s something that’s easy to forget.  Being present is even more valuable to those around us…family, friends, co-workers, the cashier.  We can be present for them anytime, if we choose.

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