Habits of Presence

The point of this kind of writing is to keep writing. The point is to continue even when there is no apparent point. To continue until there is no apparent point?

It would be good for me to reread that Eckhart Tolle passage about wanting to put off doing things, to put off being in the present, until one has more time.

I couldn’t find the passage, but it was good for me to look over The Power of Now. It is impossible to be unhappy in the present, or something like that. As with so much of Tolle, it works as a practice, even if I don’t think it’s true as a statement about life or the world.

So, two things to do when I’m discontent:

1. Notice what’s around me. Attend to it fully with my senses. Try to describe it exactly. Since the world is motion, even if what I’m surrounded by seems familiar or stultifying, it is actually different.

2. Notice the difference between the me who is discontent and the me who is watching. One of the good things about the morning pages is that they open up this difference. I may feel discontent or discouraged, but there is a watcher who is neither of those things.

So maybe what I need most are habits of presence. T’ai Chi, swiming, the morning pages, photography, even attending to my breakfast can be habits of presence.

Dang, this peaked so perfectly—a fine epiphany—but I’m still shy of a page. Perhaps with things like exercise, my guide for success can be not simply a quantitative sense of progress, but also how present I am when I do these things. My goal can be not primarily to write this many words or regain this much muscle (though those goals can help keep me focused) but rather to be more present—to show up for what I’m writing, to inhabit and experience my body.

This also focuses me on progress instead of perfection, because presence is enough. If I’m present, that’s all the perfection I need. Presence, actually, is opposed to perfection. Perfection is static, while presence is always an engagement with motion, with change.

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