New Year's day was 2 months ago. The groundhog has come and gone with his reliably unreliable predictions, and March has arrived less like a lion and more like its exiting lamb; we have only had one fire since February.
As holidays line up, New Year’s is a favorite, I’m sure because I am a person who requires frequent restarting. There’s always something going wrong that needs to be made right, overturning that needs straightening out. Accidents and oversights, needing pardon. The entire erratic course of the year seeking revision on that first day of the new year, empty and open as the boughs of winter trees.
Also known as resolutions.
Among other things, I hoped I would find more ways to be present this year, though I’m not certain I even know what that means or how to go about accomplishing it. Have more meaningful conversations, sink into quiet time but seize all teachable moments. Avoid echo chambers. It seems like each one of these things gets in the way of the other. Everything takes time. Everything takes away from something else.
In many ways, I think I am predisposed to live in that middle, unmoderated area between being fully present and not there at all. I like to visit with my lively neighbors and partake in the punch while my children run around wildly, parenting themselves. I like to believe the fact that they are clothed and fed means that I am a responsible person. That if I am kind and grateful and adamant about recycling, this will all rub off on them and they will fill the shapes of good and responsible people.
Am I so far off? If I have bathed you, if I have thoughtfully prepared a meal for you, if I take you across the street to play with friends, while I visit with mine, kissing your forehead whenever you walk by: isn’t this being present? If I help clear the dishes while you walks upstairs to see who is crying, if he notices my glass is empty and fills it, if you offer your most honest opinion. Are these not the moments we are seeking?
The present is a place you can easily lose yourself in, trying to keep up with that pervasive directive to “live in the moment”. Life will always be moving around us, a landscape that rushes by in a dizzying display of colors. We are part of this undulating motion. “Being present” is more than one understated resolution. It is learning the language of gifts, time, praise, service and affection. It is listening to know which one is being spoken, and learning to speak each one in turn.
Happy (somewhat still) New Year!
photo cred LeQuire Photo