The Best Present
Have you ever wondered what the best present you can receive might be?
The thought never occurred in my mind until, in response to her having announced her forthcoming visit by SMS, I had actually texted my daughter back on Christmas Eve, “Your presence will be the best gift in the whole wide world!”
Your Presence is Your Greatest Gift to the World
- To Your Children. There used to be a buzz word, “quality time”, which came to be when double-income families, where both husband and wife worked away from home, became the trend. Most of the time, children were left with baby-sitters or to fend for themselves. After office hours, we learned to make space within our hectic schedules in order to be home and present to our children.
Being home sometimes did not necessarily mean being present to them as there were so many chores needed to be attended to. But for those who gave value to “quality time”, chores were lowered in priority to give precious time to bonding moments. Thoughts about cares in the office were momentarily set aside to nurture a child’s wounded knee or wounded heart.
- To Our Parents. There comes a time when it becomes our turn to nurture our parents. This is another opportunity for us to gift the world with our presence, being there for our parents. It has been said that some of them develop insecurities as the years advance, and so it becomes crucial for us to be present for them, at least as often as we can manage. During these times, we can let them know how much we appreciate all the years of nurturing that we have received from them. In this sense, our presence becomes an expression of gratitude to the world.
- To Friends. Usually second in importance to family, we also set aside time to be present for friends. Despite our busy schedule, we try our best to be there for them during birthdays and other happy times as well as down times, as their shoulder to cry on. We take time to listen and bear the pain with them. These are among the rare times when the gift of our presence becomes quite precious to the world. It softens the world to those who find the moment unbearable.
With full attention, unconditional acceptance, empathy and compassion pain that is felt by one is lessened by somehow being shared with a friend.
- To the World Community. Despite the distance, we share our presence to the world community when we let ourselves feel the pain and empathize with what is happening to our fellow human beings on earth. We reach out in compassion in whatever manner we can by supporting causes to alleviate the suffering of the poor and those who are stricken by the effects of calamities wrought on by natural disasters, wars and other man-made disasters.
Taking the Gift of Presence Beyond, into the Spiritual Level
Based on the relationships we mentioned above, we may have glimpsed an opportunity for taking the gift of our presence from the physical level, e.g. listening with our ears and talking with our mouth, to a higher level of experience---the spiritual or soulful level.
Eckhart Tolle has expounded on this idea in his book, “The Power of Now”. We allow Presence into our experience by accepting the moment just the way it is. In so doing, we find that the moment reveals its own wisdom.
In listening to our loved one, we listen with our heart instead of immediately giving vent to our urge of solving problems ASAP, we can let the moment simply be. Feel its feelings and feel with our beloved.
Our usual mode is to try to escape from the discomfort of feeling our feelings and to resort to thinking thoughts and wanting the feeling to go away. We will the feelings away by finding some escape route which we usually call solutions.
Maybe by allowing ourselves to feel with our loved ones, instead of trying to escape our feelings, we give them the space to explore their options, instead of us dictating their choices upon them. Maybe by our letting ourselves stay with our feelings and be responsible for them, we can teach our children that it’s alright to feel our feelings, neither repressing them nor acting out irresponsible reactive behaviors.
Maybe in staying true to the practice to continuously bringing back our awareness to the moment, we will learn more and more of accepting the moment just as it is and most especially, our self, just as we are complete with the thoughts and feelings that we are experiencing with the moment.
The Best Gift
For lifelong learners like myself, we may yet discover that learning to accept and be present to the moment and along with it accepting our self may actually be the “best gift” in a lifelong learning experience. It is a lesson we may never fully master and an adventure we may never outgrow, as we ourselves are ever dynamically evolving. The lifelong lesson of learning to unconditionally accept and love ourselves just as we are can be one of the most difficult journeys to embark on yet may be one of the most rewarding.
We learn that the more we understand and love ourselves unconditionally, the more we understand and love others unconditionally. It’s true what has been said, “the deep and inner of self is the deep and inner of others.”
The more unconditionally loving we become, it seems that the more effortlessly our needs are fulfilled. As with in, so with out. Because we have decided to become beneficent to ourselves, the universe becomes a beneficent one to us.
Truly it all begins with giving our gift of Presence to the moment: by staying.