Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Building on that point: UnPresence

When we were in b-school, everyone always "built on" someone else's point. As though it made for a seamless transition. Even though it was often abrupt. But, in this case, I'm building on Priya's point.. 

I dated a guy once who was all about presence. He was a yogic hobbiest, and generally a little overly "aligned with his chakras" for my taste. He once, now famously, attributed his nearly lighting the kitchen (and his, ahem, junk) on fire by leaving an oiled pan unattended while cooking naked as "not being sufficiently present."  Rather than, say, being an idiot for leaving a pot unattended with hot oil inside. Or putting on pants.

Anyways, since then, I've avoided the concept of presence with a vengeance. And now, years later, I find I like it when I do my birkam yoga. Everything else goes away, and presence is almost a welcome respite from the onslaught of digital and analog stimuli that pound my brain every moment. 

But I realize - presence isn't really a great end goal. It depends on the circumstances. When you have a pounding headache. Or when you're in a horrible performance review. Or when you're at the Disney Dolphin hotel. Or when you're on a plane with screaming children. Or any number of otherwise numbing situations, sometimes presence is your enemey. Instead, I practice Un-Presence. 

If I can choose to be wholly here, in the moment, I can equally chose not to be. To disallow this reality from taking over my life. Here at Disney this time, I opted (due to passover) for skipping many meals - so the food reality was not my own (I ate matzo in my room).  I opted out of the party, since.. ick. And instead i found a gazebo by the fake lake with lizards all around and did my powerpointing. I opted out of skipping my workout, and got up and ran a couple miles (around same Fake Lake.) I opted to make sure my life was not defined by being at Disney. I had one foot outside disney.

And surprisingly, it made it all much more pleasant. I actually enjoyed the weather. The fake view. The ice cream 

Sometimes, I've decided, being Unpresent is the only way to be. Reminding yourself that your life is more than just the moment makes it all so much less... dire.

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