On Saturday, January 21 I was surrounded by women. I wasn’t at one of the women’s marches, but instead at a soccer camp, put on by the University of Washington, that had been planned months before the marches were a “thing.” As I scrolled through photos and videos on social media showing the crowds that lined the streets of cities all over the world, I felt so incredibly proud to be a woman. But I also regretted not being present myself at one of the marches.
Seeing the breathtaking turnouts reminded me of something I feel very strongly about—the power of presence. Being present, both mentally and physically, is one of the greatest gifts we can give the world and the people in our lives.
Our presence, our attention, our energy is a resource that can never run out. There are different types of presence. For example, being present in the moment. It’s crazy how you can do the same thing thousands of times, yet only rarely truly experience it. It’s the drive you take every day, yet the occasion on which you roll down your window and actually “see” it. It’s the job you’ve been doing for years, and suddenly truly feel the “why” behind the “what.” It’s talking to a group of young women at the camp I attended, looking them in the eyes and speaking to them, as opposed to just going through the motions of a presentation.
So I am reminded of the power of my energy.
Just like we can be there but not really be there, we can hear someone but not truly listen. Listening is hard. There have been times in my adult life when I have gained limitless appreciation for my parents, beyond that which I already have for them for raising me and being amazing parents. This has been in my times of need, where they’ve gone so above and beyond. It’s not necessarily in their actions (which they would do as well), but in their presence, their true listening to me. My parents teach me through example what it means to love, support, and not just hear me, but truly listen, even beyond what I may overtly verbalize. There is no better gift of love than this full presence in someone else’s life.
So I am reminded of the power of my attention.
There’s an act of genius behind what women (and supporters of women) pulled off all around the world on January 21st. The genius doesn’t stem from any sort of intellectual prowess or intricate planning. The impressive part was that people showed up. Instead of tweeting, blogging or talking, millions of people got off their couch, some travelled hundreds of miles, and they showed up. Whether it’s a wedding, funeral, coffee with a friend, a meeting, team practice, or a protest, the act of showing up is the single most powerful action we can take. To be there, as opposed to anywhere else we could be during that time, shows that this event matters.
So I am reminded of the power of showing up.
I wasn’t at one of the women’s marches. And I regret that. While my heart was with the women in the streets of the world, I console myself in the fact I was doing something positive and important in the lives of the young women I work with. On all counts, I am incredibly proud to be a woman.