Are You Present?

Remember being in school, quietly sitting at your desk, and the teacher taking roll? Your teacher asks, “Charissa?” I answer, “Present, Mrs. Huff!” (Actually I was homeschooled so I didn’t call my mom, Mrs. Huff, and taking roll was more like rolling out of bed.) Okay, so maybe taking roll didn’t happen that way, but you get the idea.


I audited a class highly lauded acting studio yesterday, where I observed a fascinating example of being present and yet not present at the same time.
As soon as the hour struck and class had begun, the teacher took roll of all the students. This girl (we’ll call her Susan) noisily rushed into class five minutes answer-boylate and sat down right in front of me. (Because she was late she had to hand the teacher $1.) Then she immediately pulled out a book and started reading. Everyone else in class was intently watching the activities and scenes in front of them, sharing observations when appropriate, and learning from what they saw. When it came time for Susan to do her scene, she got up and followed through with her activity. The teacher’s biggest observation was that she was not responding to her scene partner. Her scene activity was so important to her that she’d really cut off the other person. Susan was somewhat surprised at this feedback and promised to work on it, then promptly returned to her seat and pulled out her book. During the next scene, the teacher saw someone genuinely responding to his scene partner and called out, “Susan, did you see that?” Caught off guard, she quickly looked up from her book and eagerly said, “Yes!” The teacher, missing this sly recover, continued, “That is what I’m talking about.” Susan responded, “Okay,” and returned to her book, completely missing the teaching moment that just happened.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! No wonder she wasn’t present on stage; she wasn’t present in class.

From that little interaction I’m guessing it didn’t stop there but extended to the rest of her life. By being so caught up in her own little (self-important) world, she was completely missing the gems that were right in front of her nose.
It’s easy to condemn, but before I get too puffed-up and think I’m above all that, I need to stop and reflect on my own life. Am I really present all the time? How often do I zone out in a conversation and think about something else, missing the moment that is unfolding right before my eyes? How do I communicate to people that I am more important by being caught up in my own little world?

What moments do I miss every day?

What a tragedy! To miss out on this moment, because that is all we have. We can’t change the past. We can’t dictate the future. All we have is now.

Let’s be present, here and now, and see what gems we discover!