Being present

My writing professor this week talked about how this semester will be focused heavily on practicing the art of “being present.” I am pretty sure by that, he means something along the lines of fully engaging your surroundings. For example, stopping to take in the beauty of an ordinary tree, rather than taking it for granted as part of the landscape.

I know this isn’t something I’m skilled at. I’ve always known it. But I have made efforts to truly be present in whatever scene I happen to be sitting in. What I’ve noticed, though, is that when I am, something of the present takes me to another place. Driving home the other day, I focused on the cars around me, and the landscape. But then a song shuffled onto my iPod. It was a song that was playing during a very happy and important moment of my life, and I found myself entirely present in that moment. So much so that I missed the turn to my street.

I do enjoy looking for the concept of beauty “as it manifests itself in the world,” as my professor puts it. I was in an astrophysics class yesterday, and was entirely lost by the formulas the professor was writing on the board, but rather than frustration (or worry, which I should have felt for my prospects in that course), I was overtaken by the potential for learning. By the mysteries of the greater universe that were being unveiled. I might not understand them yet, but they represented the capacity of the universe to be understood. Being fully present to the moment and the ideas is what made me realize the beauty of those numbers and symbols.

So it’s something I’m working on, and definitely need much more practice with. But being present is doing what I need it to be doing as a writer – it is opening my mind to new ideas and possibilities, as well as to memories and feelings I haven’t bothered to feel lately.

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