I almost missed a significant conversation with my 18 year old son because of Downton Abby. (Can you believe it?) The only television show I watch all week was about to start, and we’d already been talking 10 minutes. So I said, “Well, I’ll let you go. Was there anything else you wanted to say?”
His answer surprised me.
He said, “My week wasn’t the greatest. Now that school started, I have loads of work, and you know David Bowie died.”
I’d been vaguely sorry about to hear about singer David Bowie’s death, but it had slipped my mind. At that moment, I realized it was important to my son. I knew almost nothing about David Bowie, except that I didn’t like his music at all, but I just started asking questions. (I didn’t mention not being a fan myself.) We ended up talking for 15 minutes about David Bowie and how my son felt when he saw the news of his death.
So I missed 15 minutes of a TV show, but I was able to talk with my son about something important to him. Andres left for college 5 months ago, so I don’t have that opportunity every day.
I wonder how many opportunities I miss? Opportunities to talk, to be present to the people I love?
I was in a hurry turn on a television program, so I almost missed the chance to be present to my son. Again this evening, I almost missed a conversation with my daughter Camilla because I was stressed out by traffic on the way home from her first day at community college. I pulled myself together enough to listen to her stories of a quirky classmate, and we laughed harder than we had in a long time.
Instead of being present to the people around us, we get wrapped up in our work, tied up with our phones, and busy with our to-do lists. We’re going at warped speed, but maybe we’re missing out on real life.
Real life happens when we slow down to enjoy the moments with the people we love.
When we slow down enough to have fun making cookies with a preschooler, we’re making room in our lives for wonder. We feel a small surge of joy when we take time to chat with a friend. And when we make time for a heart to heart talk with our spouse, we feel more alive. We’re present to the people we love.
The very act of slowing down to be present is a gift to yourself and to the people you love.
How about giving the gift of presence to someone today?
- Make eye contact.
- Ask questions.
It’s the best gift you can give. You’ll be glad you did, don’t you think?