Dropping off my Highschooler today, I saw something interesting. I am not referring to the “you smell like fart” t-shirt, although that may be fodder for another post. Turning in toward the parking lot, as I was leaving, I saw a lady driving, perhaps by tele kinetics. She has a lit cigarette and a cell phone in one hand and was driving with the other. She seemed deep in conversation with anyone except those in car with her. This isn’t a rant about her, though. I don’t know the specifics. She could be getting biopsy results (in which case, talk away), or she could be discussing the Full House reunion commercial (can this wait?). This also is not a post about distracted driving. This is a post about distracted living. We are all guilty. Jeff Goins does a great job addressing this in his recent book “The In-between”, but he didn’t invent the concept of “smelling the roses”. Seeing this lady talking away while her teenage passenger stared into space reminds me of the many times I was checking e-mail while my daughter discussed the intricacies of her 4th grade tether ball tournament, or my boy giving me play by painful play of jumping his scooter off the curb. I’m reminded of “helping” along stories my kids have shared with a “yes, yes…and…and”.
We are busy, and that’s ok. Somehow, in my impossible attempt at becoming the perfect parent, I have discovered something way better than perfection: Presence.
The idea of being present doesn’t end with our kids. Although I’d argue that this is the most important and most neglected opportunity. Being present takes intentionality. Ultimately intentionality as a lifestyle makes this easier. When I am in control of my goals, projects, and tasks, I am much less distracted by the “stuff” of life. Intentionality toward being present is also key, and a great opportunity to develop much deeper relationships. The ability to hold a cell phone to your ear in the same hand as a lit cigarette without igniting your hair is a great skill, perhaps that energy and focus could be used toward awesome intentional living. I challenge you to find 2 people in your life (child, spouse, co-worker, etc.) who you let the rules of presence slip. You may have slipped into distracted habits or finishing sentences to “move on”. Be fully present to them today. Turn off the cell phone, the TV, or whatever has your mind.