Presence

“I’m George McFly. I’m your density.”

We all get a little distracted from time to time.

It’s not usually a big deal. In fact, a little distraction every now and then can lead to some creative breakthroughs. Fiber artist White Feather wrote a good article about this on Thoughtwrestling, another blog I where I sometimes write.

There are also certain tasks, situations and moments that really require our full attention. They command our complete presence. Driving a race car is a good example (as my friend Kristin, aka Grease Girl, found our last year when we were at Scout Mountain Motorsports Ranch).

In between those margins is a big space where we have to determine how fully we channel our presence and attention. I notice this particularly during in-person conversation, something at which I am notoriously bad.

I’ve had people tell me I make them uncomfortable. I am highly distractable. So to combat that, some of the time, I consciously direct my attention at the person speaking to me so intensely that they feel like some invisible klieg light is glaring down on them.

It’s a little too much presence. I am a little too focused and concentrated THERE at these times, and the other person feels pushed out of the space that I’m willing every ounce of my attention into.

On the other hand, I’ve also had people leave a conversation with me convinced I didn’t hear a word they said, only to be shocked when I repeat it back to them later. I wasn’t giving them sufficient non-verbal cues that I was really attending to them. I didn’t make eye contact, or I kept working at something else. I wasn’t present enough.

Life is a continuing cycle of pulling ourselves in and putting ourselves out there. Passion sometimes prompts us to cast our presence into situations, heedless of the consequences. Fear (which is often a good and necessary thing) sometimes demands we draw ourselves in, making our presence as small as possible, in hopes of avoiding dangerous attention.

It’s a bit like sailing. The wind is always changing, and if you don’t pay attention to where you need to be, you can get whacked pretty hard.

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