“What would make their day? Which mall will have the smallest crowds? How much do I want to spend? When can I find time in my schedule to go purchase a gift?” All things that cross one’s mind when buying a gift…
However, I learned something last weekend and that is, sometimes, the best gift you can give has no price tag at all. You can’t find it at a mall. Not even on Amazon. There are no crowds because few people give this kind of gift. That gift is your presence.
Here’s what I learned about presence last weekend…
It was my 26th birthday last weekend and my parents were nice enough to take me skiing in the Rockies. I hadn’t skied with them in probably five years so I was super excited – just like the ol’ family ski trip days! However when we arrived, something just didn’t feel totally right. I wasn’t fully relaxed. My mind was wandering. I wasn’t living fully in the moment and couldn’t figure out why…
It was a busy week at work with some lingering uncertainty so I was tuned into my e-mail inbox. Earlier that morning, I posted some thought provoking articles in my Mailbag and was interested to see if any of them struck a chord with readers. Later that afternoon, I posted a picture of the crazy amount of snow on the mountain. Then to top it off, it was my birthday the next day so I thought I might receive a few well wishes from family and friends. Basically, it all added up to things in the e-mail, text message and social media domains that were all out of my control.
The problem was that these virtual domains were occupying more of mind than they should have and inside, I was feeling guilty for not giving more presence to those within the physical environment I was actually in. Here I was fortunate enough to be on a ski trip in BC. Better yet with both of my parents who are healthy and happily married. I happen to still be employed in an industry where so many are losing their job by the day. And to top it off, I’m lucky enough to have a lot of great friends and colleagues in my life that care about my well-being. Something needed to change so I could decompress and take it all in.
Then it hit me… I am going to turn my phone off.
In theory, it should be easy. Don’t look at your phone for 24 hours. Yet for some reason, we find it so difficult as a society to disconnect ourselves from the virtual world we live in, even if for short periods of time. But I went for it, on my birthday of all days.
The freedom I felt from unplugging and just living my life between the two ears I was born with was very invigorating. I struck up conversations with complete strangers on the chairlift. I got stuck more times in the trees than I could count. I skied a run with an old Australian guy for the hell of it. The conversations I had with my parents got deeper and more interesting. I started to gain clarity on a lot of things that had been circling in my mind. Not to mention, the apres ski cervezas in the hot tub started to taste that much more refreshing!
I make this sound like I floated off into abyss on a tropical island to never come back but that was certainly not the case. It was merely 24 hours sans iPhone but 24 hours well worth it. I felt rejuvenated. Refreshed.
The best part I learned about giving presence and living in the moment is that you get something in return – fulfillment. The enriching feeling of letting your guard down and giving those around you your undivided attention. This feeling permeates into your body language. Your sub-conscience allows you to relax. Your fears and anxiety are put at bay so you can just be your genuine self. You can accept who you are and where you are at in your life. When you get lost in the moment, you give yourself permission to feel human.
It was only 24 hours but it was a start. Perhaps it is fitting that Family Day Weekend is upon us where we can all give our presence to those most deserving of it.
Oh and don’t let me forget… Thank you for all the birthday wishes last Saturday!