Christmas 2015 is behind us, and New Year’s 2016 is immediately before us. Before we reflect on the year that has passed and the year that is before us, let’s focus on where we are now. The word that comes to mind is “mindfulness.” Without going to the dictionary (a baby boomer’s reference!) or googling the word, “mindfulness,” (the younger generation’s resource!) my explanation of “mindfulness” is being totally present.
For many of us, the time between Christmas and New Year’s allows us the opportunity to be present with our loved ones. We seem to have more time to sit together, to sup together, and to be mindful of each other. Of course, there is plenty to do, but we seem to be ok with not doing it! There may be the unspoken knowledge that when January comes, we will go into high gear, and all of the responsibilities we have will (again) begin to consume us. But for now, these few days at the end of December, we take the opportunity to slow down, relax, and just be present with our friends and family. For some of us that time is spent at home, and for others, we travel and spend time together relaxing at the beach, lake, or mountains, grateful to be able to relax together, whether at home or away.
The gift of presence is one of our most precious gifts. To be able to be totally present with others is something we should not take for granted. But too often we do. I am sure that you, like I, see people all around who are physically together, yet separated by technology. How often do we see couples and families at the same table preparing to have a meal together, yet who all are on their mobile devices? It continues to amaze me that people pay more attention to their technology communication than they do the communication of human connection, to the conversation of people who are sitting at the same table. Now, I must confess. I get caught up in this also, to viewing the photos and messages of people whom I see infrequently, yet ignoring the presence of those sitting with me. While I do not like to admit that what I am doing is ignoring those who are present with me, to “connect” with those on technology with whom I have, at least in some cases, a very superficial relationship. When I am honest with myself, I recognize that it is difficult to be totally present with others in a physical sense; it is much easier to “connect” via technology. And how sad this is. This does not mean that communication by technology is wrong or bad, just that it should never replace being totally present with our family and friends.
Be totally present. Have meaningful conversation with whom we are connected. Spend time together, relaxing and reflecting on those things we have in common, and even conversing about those things about which we disagree.
Let’s look forward to a brand new year, and all that it offers us. May 2016 be a wonderful year for all of us professionally, and also personally. May none of us experience our loved ones wishing they had more of us, more of our presence, or more of our attention. Hopefully we will keep our priorities in order. Hopefully we will remember that our relationships should take priority over everything else; yes, over everything else. Be totally present with others. And enjoy the benefits of the connection.