I had a moment of presence this morning. Normally I wouldn’t comment on a single moment of presence, but this one was more significant because A) I haven’t had many moments of presence lately and b) it was easy to define what made the moment ‘presence.’
I was sitting on a bench by the ferry terminal on bainbridge island waiting to go to seattle. It was sunny. I wasn’t in a hurry and had time to kill because they’d just switched to a one boat schedule, meaning I had more than an hour to wait. I got a tea from Commuter comforts and then was just sitting on the bench, enjoying the sun, soaking it in since I hadn’t felt sun that intense since probably some time in october.
The moment of presence came when i was focusing on my breaths and then when I focused on the individual granules of the sidewalk in front of me, and also the tree in front of me (a maple), and also the blueness of the sky and how the air smelled. Suddenly i was jolted into the moment, all the qualities of the moment, and I noticed things like textures and smells. Most of all I knew I was present because I felt a certain joy at just being alive, and a connection to the presence of my youth. When I was young I was present almost all the time, so when I get that feeling again, which is rare, I know it’s presence.
I also realized some other ways to tell presence. For instance, I saw a car getting off the ferry, and I realized that when not in presence, the car is so much more than just a car.
– they’re unloading the ferry. How many cars are on it? How long will it take to unload? When will they make the announcement for foot passengers to load? How crowded will the line be to get on the boat? What will I do when I get to seattle? Will I take the bus to my car? Will I walk? Will I get food on the way?
– it’s just a car
In the latter, the car is just a car. In the former, it’s as if I almost don’t see the car. I only see what the car means, and I spend the next few minutes processing the barrage of thoughts that come with it.
In presence, you notice things like: What color is the car? What does the car sound like as it moves over the pavement? How big is it? Who’s in it? What does the air smell like right now? Can I smell the car? Can I feel the wind moving because of it?
This is why whenever you do meditation to connect with the presence or watch some eckhart tolle video they’re always telling you to notice the sounds around you, and how your body feels against the ground. And then they tell you to count your breaths, because any asshole can do that.
I’m not present anymore. Or at least not like I was sitting on that bench. It’s a bit harder to be present while writing. It’s also just not my default mode of experiencing the day. I go through most days in a haze of thoughts and anxiety. But this morning! A moment of presence! Triumph!