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Thursday, November 7, 2013

What is Presence?

The other day I had the esteemed pleasure of hanging out with a professor and a Vietnam War veteran.

These two gentlemen are profoundly intelligent.

On my way to meet them I went to the wrong restaurant. The plan was to meet at a pizzeria called Matchbox. I went to the one down by Chinatown, when I should have gone to the one on 14th street.

Anyway, on my way from Chinatown to 14th I began imagining how foolish my lunch mates must think I am. I had only met the professor once and the Vet is/was a infantry captain so in moments of despair at being what was then 25min late, I imagined the Vet thinking I was an idiot incapable of being on time in a major city. In my mind I imagined him comparing my ineptitude to ineptitude in the field and because I was so late he must surely imagine me to be a joke.

Of all the possible ways my tardiness could play out and I hitched my mind to worry.
When I finally arrived at Matchbox each of my four lunch mates were gracious and happy I made it. They had already ordered but not to worry.
When is the last time you set at a table with a group of people and the conversation just flowed?

Hardly breaks between words,
Not useless time fillers
But thoughts and voice
Dancing in eternity.

We all were surprised when it started to rain. After we sat down at a new table inside we looked at the clock and were all surprised so much time had passed.
At one point the Vietnam Veteran and I got to discussing leadership. He discussed how leadership in the field means being completely alert under any circumstance.

He described with a knowing chuckle the way he had taught guys at West Point that during a firefight the leader has to be able to process all information with a kinda aware detachment.

The enemy
Your soldiers

To be aware of so much is hard to imagine. But he did it and others have done it time immemorial.

I think what he's talking about is presence.
Football is built around this precept.

I think they timed it out and found that the amount of actual action in a game is 11min.

Football consistently creates 11min of presence for fans and players alike at different intensity.

On the field,
In the living room,
On the radio
11min of presence
hanging on the edge
of the fact
that at any given moment
anything can happen.

That edge pulls you into the moment,
Think about it like this
Pulls you
But being pulled
Doesn't help
You know what presence is.

Being pulled doesn't require practice so I figure I never actually new what presence was even though I experienced it at least for 11 min every week during football season.
I have experience this edge before but never thought of it as something I could cultivate on my own.

What is presence?

It wasn't what I experienced on the way to Matchbox, it's what I experienced while I was there, it's what I've had before and what I looked for on the walk home.

Presence, I'm starting to understand what to look for.

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