I was a fit to be tied. It was the mid-2000s and I was in my early twenties, trapped in a long line in an unfamiliar airport after a whirlwind of a week. It was spring break in the desert, but I wasn't in Phoenix for a party. My dad had been ungrudgingly hauling me around the arid wasteland before the huge real estate boom of 2005 to this school and that school as I tried to determine where I might next call home. Now, it was time to return east, but for some reason, we didn't quite understand that you needed to arrive early to board an airplane in (at the time) the fifth largest city in the country. We were a bit more small town USA. So, we missed our flight. And we weren't getting back to Indy anytime soon. The Final Four was in town and everyone and their brother was on the next flight to Hoosierville. I would be missing a concert in Chicago with my boyfriend at the time. And, like the typical entitled young twenty-something, I was being petty and I was pissed.
And the line wasn't getting any shorter.
Enter slightly frumpy, yet pretty, mild to moderately intoxicated fine British lady, purposefully interjecting herself into our conversation. Her jewelry dangled off her thin wrist as she recklessly waved her lipstick-stained, overpriced, glass of wine through the air. "All you Americans are in a hurry to do, do, do. Why won't you allow yourselves to just be?"
She changed my entire perspective with one sloppy sentence and a meaningful, pungent question that lingered much like her grape-infused airport breath. Why wouldn't I allow myself to just be?
I pondered this further over airport nachos, compliments of Staind, who were also stranded in Phoenix and gave me their free meal ticket they weren't going to use. The early 2000s were weird times. That twenty minute period among the weirdest.
I wish I could say that I learned my lesson and embraced all the wisdom my British airport wine lover bestowed me in her short, hot breaths; however, I would have missed out on all of the necessary yearning and learning that comes along with the fast-paced life of your twenties. Today, however, during long days of quarantine, her words come back to me as we all reconsider what it means to be present, and the power of connecting with one another in the here and now.
Exit drunken British woman. Enter long days o' quarantine.
I think that being present can feel like overwhelmedness and underwhelmedness, sometimes all in a single day.
I admit, I don't know what in the world is going on up there in the heavens, but I have to believe there is a lesson or two here not only about trust, but about being present (with God, with ourselves, and with each other) during these lingering days.
So, what does being present look like during these times of quarantine?
I think that being present can feel like connection. It can feel like connection to the earth, to ourselves, and to each other. It can feel like unity with the world, and oneness with God.
I think that being present can feel like disconnection. It can feel like disconnection from the earth, from ourselves, and from each other. Ironically, this can also feel like unity with the world, and oneness with God.
I think that being present can feel like overwhelmedness and underwhelmedness, often in a single day, in a single hour, and sometimes in a single CNN news report.
I think being present can feel like thirst and hunger and longing, and being satiated and satisfied and enough.
I think being present can be tasting texture and hearing vibrations. I think being present can be smelling with your cilia and observing with your soul. It can be touching the raw earth with your fingertips and feeling the rhythms of the plates below standing still on top of the ground.
I think being present can be charging forward and holding back. I think being present can be running the race with perseverance and stopping just short of the finish line, sweat-infused and out of breath.
I think being present can be both interpersonal and intrapersonal. It can be both together and separate. It can be both logical and illogical. Both exciting and mundane.
Being present is connection to everything and disconnection from all but one thing. And perhaps everything in between.
Linger a Little Longer:
1. How are you coping with the "need to be" during quarantine? Is this similar or different than your typical need to be in the world?
2. How are you present during these lingering, monotonous days of social distancing? Which line above resonated with you most?
3. How do you allow yourself to be present with God, with yourself, and with others? Be specific. Reflect on which area you would like to most improve.