Being present where you are



By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

I’ve finally finished writing a new book that will be published very soon. It took a while. A long while, if you ask anyone in my family. The experience was not too dissimilar to the time when I wrote a previous book. That one took three years. 

It is shocking to some just how much time can elapse when someone gets into their own space. Not for me. I completely understand it. And, how much time can get away from a person when they are in the throes of a project. 

My family tires of hearing about “the book.” Any or all of them actually. Why? Probably because I can become completely consumed when I am writing. 

I wish I would have video recorded my family’s reactions when I told them the book I just finished was a three-part series. That is another six years, according to my calendar. 

I told one of my children of my writing that I could be out roaming the streets or sitting at some bar drinking myself silly. I’m not sure they bought it. My point was, everyone has to be somewhere doing something, sometime. I choose to be lost in thought at my desk, writing.

When I start a project, I have to finish it. I just can’t leave it dangling. It’s like a tune that plays in my head over and over until the last note is written. 

I don’t think I am that different from others around me. So many of us carry a tune inside of ourselves that has to play itself through before we can feel like we have accomplished our will. It’s what makes us get up in the morning. It’s what we think about when we lay our head on the pillow at night.

Unfortunately, being so engaged in one’s own moment can take a person far, far away from those right next to them. 

Our son is constantly getting after me when he walks in the house and can’t find his dad. “Mother, you need to be present with him. You get so caught up in your own world that you forget to check on him.”

I respond, “I’m present. I’m right here.”

“No, I mean, you need to come down from your perch and be engaged with the family.”

This, coming from our son, who left home when he was 16.

I thought I was with family. At least their dogs are always here. Am I missing something? 

Apparently, being consumed by my own creativity has made some in the family feel shut out. To be fair, I have been trying to push a couple of my adult children and my Sweet Al’s dog out for years. Perhaps my creative craze is the kick I needed. 

Our daughter in California called. She couldn’t believe all of the things her daughter was working on. She turned her garage into a furniture-making workshop where she has made everything from a table and chairs to the perfect desk. 

“It’s just something in her, like some sort of music playing that only she can follow.”

How I know that all too well. I wonder how many times I stumbled to the coffee maker and missed the beauty of a morning, all because I was looking at the day ahead. 

Is it possible to be so laser focused on something that you become blind to everything around you?

I am certain that I have put my family through their paces when it comes to the shiny objects that have been my distraction over time. How thankful I am that they support my journey, even if I don’t invite them along for the ride. 

Final brushstroke: Yes, we need to be present, especially when we find ourselves in a world miles-away from those right next to us. Why put the burden of my mind on those who may not understand it? Instead, check in before checking out. That way you get the best of both worlds — the one you create, and the one you live in. 

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