Being present

I thought it would be easy, this making a difference. And while doing things to make a difference is easy, I am finding myself challenged to stay in the consciousness of being present at all times, watching for opportunities to present themselves, so that I can effortlessly turn up and make a difference with grace.

There are moments when ‘the difference’ appears without any prompting. Standing on the deck at the ferry terminal in Nanaimo, watching the ship roll into the dock, I see a mother and father and their two sons. All decked out in Canuck hockey jersey’s, the mother is taking a photo of her boys against the backdrop of the harbour.

“Would you like a photo of all of you?” I ask.

And she smiles gratefully, shows me how to operate the camera and moves back to join her family for the photo. It was the same with the trio of women on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery later that afternoon when Alexis and I were leaving the gallery. “Would you like a photo together?” I asked and they gratefully accepted.

And the panhandler sitting on the sidewalk. It was easy to give him coins, just as it was easy to drop a $5 bill into the open guitar case of a busker. Making the decision to give to people on the street is a simple case of deciding to share what coin I have.

But, what of all those other times I didn’t notice? That’s where I find myself challenged in this process. Those chunks of time where I am moving through my day on auto-pilot, not really connecting to the world around me.

I notice it in other’s eyes as well. Walking along the street, intent on getting to where they’re going, they pass me by, engaged in some other mission than being right there where they’re at, looking for opportunities to be the difference they want to see in the world.

It is not the ‘making a difference’ that is the challenge. It’s the being present, being in the moment that eludes me as I catch myself drifting away, sealing myself off from the world passing me by, moving through my day by rote.

Yes, it is in being present that I must be different.

17 thoughts on “Being present

  1. I agree, opportunities to make a difference present themselves fairly easily when and IF I am fully present, way too often I operate on remote, in the silence and security of my own little world, bent on my own missions and fully ignoring those around me. I am usually aware when I am doing this, so I’m going to work harder to break out of my shell at those times. Not only would this be a positive step, but it would work wonders for the sense of isolation and alienation I so often feel. I tell my daughter to participate in life, I need to remind myself of that as well!


    • Josie — it is so wonderful to hear your voice chiming in on the conversation. I like what you said about your daughter and having to remind yourself to do the same thing. I too must remember to do this! 🙂


  2. A wee caveat — from a gal who needs constant work on boundaries. Another important way to be present in your giving is to make sure you’re aware of how much you have to give, and the best way to give it. So says the Queen of the knee-jerk “take it all! take more!”. 🙂


    • I think that is at the core of it Alyssa — when I am in balance, giving is receiving and I don’t have to then worry — am I giving away too much. 🙂 For me, it’s why these small acts make the difference. They’re not grand gestures where I give up myself to make other’s happy, in their doing they add value to my life.

      nice to see you my friend! I hope 2012 brings much less change that hurts and lots more change that creates healing and growth and opportunity to evolve and expand into happiness.


  3. I am glad to know that making a difference not only is what i do, but is also what is done to me. Difference is being made all the time. Some of the time we are presented with ways that we can partake in this, some of the time we are the ones being made different. I think it is alright that we don’t notice it all of the time, because we need time to just rest and dream. However, i like very much the idea of being in the present…as in being aware of what is going on around me in the moment while i am on the journey. i think that we get so used to driving a car and not ever wanting to use the breaks. we just want to stay on our plan that takes us from point a to point b, and forget that life also takes place between those two points. what is between those two points can be some of the best parts.

    Making a difference can be difference being made in me, and in turn made to others as well. Letting go of the plan enough to make room for the unexpected.

    Creativity is like finding something and putting it into a piece of art. It is a process of something being the same, and yet different. A change, a process, unexpected, unknown until it presents itself. an interactive play within creation.


  4. Lovely Nance — what you wrote and you.

    And yes, making a difference happens inside and out. It’s part of this journey for me — to see what happens within me when I actively focus on staying attuned with what is happening around me to see where opportunities present themselves.



  5. My daughter pointed out to us each at Christmas how often we are engaged in conversations with each other but not engaged. In the middle of another person’s thoughts/comments something would grab your attention and off you’d go. Her gentle poke has made me more conscious of being in the moment and giving my undivided attention to the conversation – regardless of who that conversation is with. That, I know, will make a difference in the relationship. Thanks for sharing your journey, Louise.


  6. I remember being thoroughly shocked when I first arrived in the US and found there was so much homelessness in the richest country in the world. It’s good to be reminded and kept grounded.


    • It is stunning Maddy to see so many people on the street. Here in Calgary the Drop-In is the largest shelter in Canada — it sleeps 1200 people a night, which is shocking. Being the largest shelter is not an moniker to strive for. Being conscious and grounded helps to keep the focus on ‘ending’ homelessness, not just ensuring people have a place for the night. Thanks for dropping by!


  7. Have just found your blog – what a wonderful idea. You’re the kind of person who can turn someone’s day from sad into optimistic.

    It is easy to walk around on auto pilot, true, but it’s also necessary sometimes, in the same way that sleep is necessary. It allows us to sort out our thoughts and return us to focus.


    • Thank you Fi! For visiting and for saying that. You’ve touched my heart.

      And I like the idea of it sometimes being necessary — like sleep — as an opportunity to sort and focus. Nice.


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