by Amy Kucharski, Waco, Texas
You’ve probably heard it said that it’s not your presents that matter, but your presence. Well, does just being in the room count?
I wish I could chuck my cellphone through the window. But if I did, I’d have to tape plastic bags to the window for “security” while I drove to the Apple store to get my iPhone screen fixed, and for a few weeks after that, until I could save up the money to repair my house. Priorities.
I don’t know how I would live without my phone, while I shudder to imagine my kids tuning me out someday while they play or text on theirs. ‘What am I teaching them?’ I ask myself. I have pet peeves about phones. We all do, right? Someone bringing theirs to the dinner table or a restaurant. Constantly checking it while you’re supposed to be hanging out together. Parents focused on their phones instead of their children. The last one is a huge source of internet mommy shaming, of course, and yet I haven’t met a person who doesn’t violate their own principles about phones. They are simply addictive. I’ve tried setting it down in the kitchen or leaving it in my purse. This works sometimes. But not all the time. There’s probably been far too much said on the subject, and this post is not meant to belabor the point.
One day recently, sitting in our empty new house waiting for the furniture, with nothing to entertain me but my phone for hours, I finally got sick of it. I put it down and pondered all of the above things. I asked myself what I want people to see, physically, from me. Especially my children, but anyone I’m with. Head down? Ignoring them? Laughing or steaming about something they have no context to appreciate whatsoever? I thought about how, cellphone obsession aside, people are often distracted or not giving their best to those around them. And by people, I mean me.
So I pictured what it physically would look like for me to be available. How can I communicate my physical, mental and emotional presence to another person? I got this idea to create these “mantras.” Then I quickly had to Google the definition of “mantra” to make sure I was using the right word: “Mantra – a word or phrase that is repeated by someone who is meditating….believed to have psychological or spiritual power; the spiritual value of mantra comes when it is audible, visible, or present in thought.” Ok, that works for me. Yes, I realize the term has some roots in Eastern religion, and some Westerners get nervous about the term “meditation” but as my pastor has pointed out many times, it’s just focused thought. I imagined having the mantras I wrote taped to the back of my phone, or on my refrigerator. Well, here they are. See what you think:
When I wrote the “Fun Mantra,” I was thinking a lot about how much attitude affects presence – especially when you want to go out and have fun with someone.
I probably need to work on these images – I made them quickly so I could be available for my kids when they wake up 🙂 But anyway, what do you think? Do you have a mantra? Do you have trouble giving focused attention to people or do you have a secret or method that works when you’re with others? Please consider writing a guest post (see submissions page).