Belinda and I here present our slightly different takes on that oh so simple, but oh so complex topic – presence. What it is and what it means to us. In life’s moments, in life’s conversations and of course in life’s relationships.
The Charisma take and the Idiot take on the moment and being in it, or not 😀
This is the first in my “Team Charisma World People” guest blogger series. Belinda’s done me proud, thank you Mrs Idiot … and your “Mr Lion” art, what can I say, awesome, if I could like him twice I would 😀
Belinda’s been blogger friend of mine for a while now. She in my humble opinion is a very talented writer and artist, and a pretty cool human being to boot. So I’m very happy to have her write for us, her art was an unexpected bonus.
What it’s about :
Topic : Presence
Style : Collaborative creative writing
Guidance : Write creatively about our experiences of what presence is. To be drafted without seeing the other’s draft. Final edits allowed after seeing each other’s pieces.
Our hope – to give a masculine and a feminine perspective for completeness and to provide contrast. Team work, as in “Team Charisma World People”.
The dictionary definition :
1. the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present.
So without further ado, and of course – ladies first …
BELINDA – Idiotwriter
If I cannot focus on you then I cannot hear you. I can read your words or have them enter my ears… but I am not having a conversation with you. I have not felt you and it may feel like a one way relationship. I may find myself asking – WHO are you? You nor I are in that moment. I am not present with you, with who I am, nor you with me and we will not be able to know how to relate to each other.
What is it you are saying without the words you speak or write, the art or music you create? What is your mood, your wish, your desire…your motivation?
Ask yourself when creating or in conversation:
Who am I? Why and how do I want to create this conversation?
Why am I here?
I cannot read you well, unless I am fully engaged in THAT moment in time – with you.
It is your presence in that moment that speaks to me. If you or I are not present, focused, and tuned in to the ‘conversation’ taking place – it is purely information drifting across as sound-waves, keyboard characters, or images.
They may impact me in my own way, but will they impact me in the way you wish them too?
Will your message reach my heart and soul?
What do we do with information?
It can teach matters of intellect, but it cannot teach matters of the heart. If I cannot feel it or taste it to absorb it and process it – I cannot understand it with the parts of me that matter in creating connection between human beings.
We can exchange information in so many ways, but truly if the understanding is not available to us, we are less likely to learn. In Mathematics or Science (or any academics) when we understand WHY, we understand clearer – HOW.
If you write without your heart and soul – your words may be clever – but they may not be felt, nor understood in the context you wish to convey them in. If we do not know the WHY, the HOW is so much harder to pinpoint. If you are not fully immersed in your words as you speak them or write them, knowing WHY you do so, I may know what you are saying, but I will not relate to you on a human level, UNDERSTANDING YOUR ‘WHY’, the ‘HOW’ to interpret them in context is near impossible – there will be a distance between us, a missing piece. Aspects of your intention in the words you give will be lost. I may misinterpret the meaning you wish to convey. I may misread or misunderstand the intonation, whether verbal or read. I may see your artwork or hear your music, and I may misinterpret angst as violence or sadness as cynicism, or joy as superficial… I need to KNOW you better to understand what your creation means.
Artists, musicians, writers… know this. It is often the case that these creative people in general will find their most loyal supporters in those whom they have taken time to get to know, or who have taken time to get to know them. WHAT do they represent? Is it relatable? Is there a meaning?
DO WE UNDERSTAND WHO THEY ARE? Are we able to engage in their creative gifts and appreciate and enjoy them, allowing them to touch us and move us?
How do we grow the ability to be able to connect to someone- even if they are unseen as we do so very much on social platforms?
We think on them – we see them as they write or create. We read their words and hear their voice by simply knowing they are real and have breathed life into the words (or artworks or music) that appear on our screen. We become involved! We maintain curiosity about each other – WANTING to learn about new people and outlooks and ideas… and dread missing the opportunity to do so.
We become – PASSIONATE, about each other and our connectedness as human beings.
If we translate this WHY and HOW of connectedness to knowledge and wisdom of understanding the ebbs and flows of our universe – this creation we live in, what it teaches us is reversed to our relationships within it:
When we understand the HOW… we begin to know the WHY, which allows us to learn the WHY of our place here and the HOW of living within our world in harmony with ourselves and others.
All that we have to do then, is find the WHAT and WHEN? (No small feat then!)
It surely is not a mystery that we are all connected to each other?
We started out in the same place – interspersed across the universe, or from the dust of the earth, or the breath of god – or simply the same DNA. Whatever your belief – it is evident we are related to each other, we have something in common. I am a part of you and you are a part of me… we are all human beings… but if we do not know or see this dynamic and beauty of our separate identities with our gifts and roles and see the unity within it – we cannot feel it – therefore – we cannot hear each other… it becomes a noise… I to you, and you to me.
You cannot force someone to stop and be present and listen to your place in their lives. You cannot insist that they hear you so you are not just words or an extension of them… but if you really want them to connect in some way with you… it begins with you… you must be present to them.
A hard place to be sometimes, because when we are present in the moment with someone – whether virtually or beside someone, we CAN feel them, we CAN be moved by them… and we can feel and hear if we are a voice to them – or simply – noise.
Don’t let people be your background soundtrack – draw close – hear them. Because if you want them to be present to you, and hear you and feel you, you need to allow them to feel your presence too. You will be causing them sadness beyond belief if you wish (or demand or manipulate) them to be present for you, yet – treat them like noise. They will feel it and slowly they will withdraw until all you are to them… is just a din to be drowned out.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.
– Don Charisma 2014
There are many variations, and authors – it’s the thought that counts !
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
A high ideal is “being present” or being “in the moment”, is great, for some people, some of the time, but not all, and not all situations. The past and the future, are important too, so balance is key here. The realms of thinking, planning, doing etc are important for all of our lives, and not to be dismissed merely as “obstacles of being present”. Or put another way perpetually being in the moment whilst constantly dodging, deferring or passing responsibility, may seem blissfully carefree, however the rub is constant powerlessness, neediness and helplessness.
So, balance, I said that already.
Presence Is A Gift, Not Something To Be Demanded Or Expected Of The Other
When demands for emotional and mental presence are being made, it can come off a little bit self-interested on the part of the person who’s demanding such presence. Questions like these arise :
Why do you require me to “be present” with you right now ?
Are you so insecure in your own “moment” that you require others to be in that moment too ?
And, isn’t that a little controlling that you get to say when I have to be present with you ?
I’m sure cynics are further ahead than me on this, and have spotted other angles of why a person would demand, and perhaps try to force another’s presence … My conclusion was/is simply that when I’m present and not present, is entirely my business not that of others to decide for me.
Group “presence” should be a voluntary act – we’re present in the group, because we want to be, authentically present, rather than forced to be present.
That’s true in a world of ideals. In practical terms though, often not. People have jobs, and have to have some kind of presence for others in order to carry out their work. Customer/client facing jobs more so than others, but almost all jobs I’d say have an element of having to be present for others, and not necessarily on our own terms. Don’t attend the meeting, and you’re fired, no job, no pay, no money, no place to live, etc. C’est la vie, I guess !
Why talk about the negatives ? Ignorance or denial of the negatives, can be an obstacle, an obstacle which can’t be overcome if we don’t know of or we deny the existence of. What springs to mind is -“Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results” … isn’t that a definition of insanity ?
So what’s so great about “being present” or “being in the moment” ? Challenging to describe to someone who isn’t/doesn’t/won’t venture(ing) into being present. Poets throughout the ages make a fine job of expressing what occurs “in the moment”, along with many spiritual texts. Presence is nothing new, in fact it’s as ancient as it gets.
If I had to define it, I’d say it’s about thinking less, and feeling more. In some moments, one might experience profound inner peace or deep inner joy. In other moments, it could be quite the opposite, utter turmoil, which is probably why we often opt to escape the moment, in one way or another.
Some also find the moment in things like creating art, making music, writing, dancing or being outdoors in nature. Simply, they become what they are doing – be the music, be the dance, be the writing or just enjoy being in a park, nature reserve or the top of a mountain. Passion, enthusiasm and intensity of focus are often involved. Sometimes stillness and relaxation. Sometimes being with others who’re already in the moment.
Blogging I find can bring me into the moment, intensely focused on creating. Just as much as can a relaxing walk on the beach or the company of a good old friend … amongst many other things …
Spiritual practices from almost all religions, including prayer and meditation, may lead to a more present and in the moment experience of life. However just because we pray or we meditate doesn’t guarantee a life filled with happiness and inner peace, nor do these things in themselves necessarily bring inner peace and happiness. The illusion of “doing meditation” in order to be blissfully happy whilst doing it, is just that, an illusion. The point has obviously been missed that meditation is spiritual “work” and not done merely as a pleasurable pursuit one puts down when it’s “not fun anymore”. Same I’m guessing for prayer. A “strong determination” – persistence and patience, is required.
So what does bring inner peace and happiness ? Who can say really, inner peace and happiness look different to different people, so it’s subjective, it’s a slightly different animal for each person. It is however quite widely accepted that things like seeking truth, knowing oneself, taking responsibility for oneself and aiming for right action or virtue, are the keys for some people. I’m familiar with Buddhism (right action) and Christianity (virtue), presumably other religions such as Islam and Hinduism have similar principles for right action/virtue.
I watched the movie “Boys N The Hood” (1991) recently, it’s now on my favourites list. The father gets passed the responsibility of taking care of his ten year old son, in order to teach him to “be a man”, a responsibility his working mother doesn’t feel qualified for. Mainly what the father teaches, is the boy taking responsibility for himself, his environment, his home, the other factors in his life. Things like a diligent work ethic, and ultimately what the film is about, coming to terms with the most frustrating things that happen to us in life, and dealing with them in a healthy way. Long story short (watch it yourself), the boy becomes a man, and makes his own decision to stay out of vendetta that leaves some of his friends dead. The path of taking responsibility for himself in his life, rather than self-destruction.
So why do I mention this ? Taking responsibility for ourselves, is one of the keys to inner peace and happiness. “Keys” not inner peace and happiness itself – there can be much turmoil, difficulty, hardship, challenge and struggle in taking responsibility for ourselves, but the end game is in fostering more inner peace and happiness.
So what of the past ? The past happened, it doesn’t actually exist anymore, except in memory, and perhaps in writing and photography, some “capture” of the past. Somehow, someway, the difficult aspects of the past we need to come to terms with, accept, learn from and ultimately put behind us. Obviously there are positive things that happened in the past too, these memories are just, if not more important than the negative memories of past.
And what of the future ? Well, no one knows exactly what the future holds, it’s a mystery. We can plan for it, we can dream about what it’ll be like. But sure as eggs is eggs, it’s possible and probable it’ll be different from what we expect. What we do in the present, and also have done in past can have an influence on the future, however it doesn’t define it. What does define it is what we do and who we’re being in the present, so, this is perhaps why such a big importance is placed on “being present” and “in the moment”, and taking responsibility for oneself.
A Successful Life
A successful life is about the quality of what we feel, not what we have or what we get. The present, the gift, is on the inside of us – the quality of our thoughts and feelings, the magic and inner beauty that I reckon most of us possess, albeit a diamond in the rough sometimes.
The mind is never satisfied with the objects immediately before it, but is always breaking away from the present moment, and losing itself in schemes of future felicity… The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.
– Samuel Johnson
Happiness and inner peace, they come, they go – a key factor in being happier and more peaceful is self-responsibility. It’s not hoping that someone or something else will make us happy – that’s pushing the responsibility onto someone else or something else, when in fact it’s not their responsibility. It’s not wishing that the past was different or better, OR that the future will be plain sailing, with lottery win after lottery win – that’s probably just delusional. So where does that lead us – right back to the present moment. Back to reality – right here, right now.
ULTIMATELY – The truth is ultimately up to you to decide. “Know thyself” they say 😀
(ERRORS AND OMISSIONS EXCEPTED … Photos courtesy of Pixabay)
Comments are invited
Comments are often welcomed, provided you can string a legible, relevant and polite sentence together. In other cases probably best shared with your therapist, or kept to yourself.