November 2, 2015
Few would argue with the importance of maintaining a clear view of the present moment. If we live with our heads too much in the past, we regret; if we live too much in the future, we miss out.
Being aware of the world around us in real-time allows us to participate in situations as they happen. When we do that, we are able to add our distinct value and voice to the moment while it occurs. Being there and seeing a video of it are two distinctly different experiences.
Through presence we develop connections and intimacy with others and we are able to truly share experiences with them.
When we see something cool happen right in front of us, isn’t our instinct to tell someone about it? In the presence of beauty or strangeness, we seem to all have the impulse to get someone else’s attention so that they, too, can see it.
Think of sitting in a café and seeing a group of random dogs walk by nonchalantly on their hind legs. No one in their right mind would just casually watch this scene. We would all try, in some way, to get others to see it too.
As humans, we love to watch things together—plain and simple. We love to bring sights into our minds at the same time that others do. Whether or not we would use these same words, we seem to value the quality of presence in others.
But, does that mean that not being present is a negative thing? In what ways could a lack of presence be viewed in a positive and constructive light?
Our cultural integration with technology might be a starting point. Despite the fact that the average American spends 6-10 hrs/day interfacing with some sort of screen, it is still not uncommon to hear technology being harshly criticized.
Our growing reliance on devices challenges our abilities to be and to feel fully present, it’s true. And, while there are ways around that (like tech-fasting or a designated device-free hour each day) it is worth acknowledging that smart devices have also expanded our abilities to connect and be present with others in some ways.
Our devices are offering approaches to presence that were impossible in the past, and we may not have a cultural language to talk about this yet. Think of videoconferences and facetimes, they can provide pure presence, can’t they?
In that way, by the old definition, no, we are not being present with our immediate surroundings. However, if we allow that definition to evolve a bit and to see that we can, indeed, be present with someone in Mongolia while we are in Chicago, it begins to look a little brighter.
And this is an idea that the strength of futuristic can teach us all about. That is, by beginning to reevaluate our conventions and classical modes of thinking, we may evolve away from what “is” and toward what “could be”.
Self-evident as it seems, “Nothing ever changes by staying the same.” And those with the visionary quality of futuristic know this fact better than anyone. They can activate a vision of the future like a projection that plays against a screen of the present.
We can understand something vital about ourselves and our culture by tuning into the ways that the futuristically minded operate. By looking into the tomorrows with curiosity, hope, and eagerness, we can learn to let go of parts of our pasts that may be limiting or even damaging to our presents.
In what ways am I working to remain present in my life?
In what ways do I practice acts of futurism? Does it energize me with joy and hope? Does it fill me with anxiety?
How could I foster a greater respect for what is to come while still enjoying what is here-and-now?
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.