the importance of being present
I usually begin my posts on Wednesday with a reference to the post I’ve written the previous Monday. I can’t do that this week because I didn’t write a post for Monday. It wasn’t an accident; it was a choice.
I didn’t write a post for Monday because I write all my blogs and edit them in advance of actually posting them. As I was in New York City all weekend for Del Close Marathon, I actually made the choice to prioritize being present in all of the amazing moments of the weekend over writing a blog post for Monday. Although I felt some guilt about it because my blog is a thing I truly love doing, I am happy I made the choice to let myself have a day off and just enjoy the events and company of the weekend.
Sunday night, after everything was said and done and the Del Close Marathon performances came to an end, I joined many other improvisers at the DCM Party Space. I hadn’t attended the previous two nights of the weekend because I was making sure I got to see all my friends and family from the East Coast who made the effort to attend Garage Band’s show.
People so often get caught up constantly thinking about the future instead of enjoying the present. In talking with a friend at the after party, I told him that one of the turning points for me in my improv career was the moment I realized that I didn’t need to play someone else in order to make interesting game moves or feel like I was funny; I just needed to be myself and react as I would in real life to something someone says. I realized that funny stuff happens as we go when establishing the relationships in the worlds we’re creating, but all those realities start in a much simpler, more real place: ourselves.
I’ve had conversations with a few people recently where I’ve noticed them having trouble staying present. Maybe I’m boring - who knows?! But when it happens, I’ve called those people out on it each time. And I’ve had people call me out on it, too, when I’ve had trouble staying present. For the record: when it happens to me, it’s usually because I’m somewhere loud, which distracts and frustrates me because I work so hard to truly listen to people. I’m not great with loud places because they’re not conducive for listening. I like to listen, and I like to be present.
Being present really starts with listening. Not just hearing, but actively listening to other people. When you’re actively listening to other people, you’re taking the words that they’re saying at face value without placing any judgments on it. We all have unique perspectives in life and it’s normal to try and relate to someone else’s experiences through your own lens, which is not the same thing as judgment. Human beings crave connection and community; it’s something we all search for, which is why it’s so important to actively listen to what other people are saying to you. If you listen hard enough, you can learn so much about how another person sees the world, what sets her off, what makes him happy. When people are truly present, they ignore the external factors - the noise - and focus on what’s happening in themselves and the person sitting across from them. It’s difficult to do in a noisy setting, but it’s amazing to interact with someone who’s working hard to ignore those noises and listen.
I’ve written before about memory, but it remains true. Humans remember things better when they attach emotional significance to things. If you’re truly present, you’re reacting as your truest self. And when you’re being truthful and honest as yourself with another person, you remember the things they say.
I remember telling one of my friends on Sunday night that I was feeling guilty about not writing a blog for Monday but that I knew how important it was for me to stay balanced and be present. I remember saying, “I didn’t write my blog for tomorrow yet, but I don’t want to leave and go home. I write about staying balanced and present, so I need to practice what I preach.” My friend then suggested I write about “being present” for today and let myself enjoy the party space, so here I am. I had already given myself permission by virtue of being at the party, but sometimes human beings do need to hear that it’s okay to let yourself off the hook once in awhile (especially when you’re someone like me who really does love and enjoy being productive). I’ve written before about the importance of forgiveness, and like most things, it starts with yourself.
So by not writing a post for Monday, I actually did practice what I preach. Seems counterintuitive, but life is all about balance. I did so much this past weekend, and I can’t wait to tell you about everything in my video blog on Friday!
So until then, thank you so much for reading, and, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further with me, feel free to subscribe below or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m so grateful you're here and that a community of people all over the world wants to participate in this dream I’m building. I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU! I’m here for you, and I love hearing from you! You’re the best, and you have everything you need inside of you! Please believe it! Starve your ego, feed your soul - and follow your heart!
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