More and more I realize that presence is what it’s all about when it comes to family life. It is my constant pursuit and I admit I’m not always that good at it. But when I achieve it I am more patient, understanding and connected too. Partly my lack of presence is based on the fact that there are 6 of us in the house which is a bit distracting at best. Partly it’s that I work for myself, which means that there is always something to be done. And partly it’s just because I don’t always make the right choice when it comes to the phone or the computer or what have you – (which only sometimes can be traced back to the fact that I work for myself.) But partly too it can be changed. By choice.
I found total presence this past weekend in a campout we took with friends. And it’s presence I want to bring with me into my daily life.
During the four days we were in the field, we had no cell phone signal. None. At. All. Which meant for me that not only did I not have the buzzing phone in my pocket, I never even knew what time it was. After the first couple times I looked at the phone for the time and remembered it was off, I finally and delightfully tossed the phone into the bottom of the knapsack, not to be dug out again until we were back at home. To have that many adults all together in a field along a river with all our kids and nobody’s time or nap or conversation or marshmallow cooking or hiking or fire sitting or singing interrupted by a ringing phone – answered or unanswered – was pure and total presence at it’s very best. It was so pure it was almost startling and it made me realize I want more of that.
And i can create it. I’m going to turn it off a little more than I currently do. I’m going to mute its ring and let the voice mail do my work for me. I’m going to start with evenings at home and maybe most weekends as well. I am certain, after this weekend especially, that it will do the trick for helping me in my constant pursuit of presence. Once I realize how few calls I get in a day, or a week even, that are emergency status, I think it’ll be easy to pursue.