That gift is very simply...
Not "presents"... "presence".
The act of being there, in the moment...
... with whomever we are with.
We live in an age of distraction.
There are so many new tools (or toys)... there are so many channels of communication... there are so many things going on. There are status updates to post, tweets to read... Oh, look, there's a butterfly....
We live in an age of "busy".
We all have busy lives. We work hard and long hours. We play hard. We have zillions of events going on for school or work or church or community groups or sports or friends or charities or nonprofit orgs or ... or ... or ..
We have deadlines at work and "to do" lists that can never be completed. Projects abound that take all of our "work" time and carry over into our "personal" time... we are always thinking about them.
We live in an age of "multi-tasking".
Our ubiquitous mobile phones are always within reach.
Always tempting us.
Always available for us to "just check one more email message"... or to scan our Facebook NewsFeed... or to reply to a tweet... or see what friends have checked in nearby on FourSquare.
We email while we drive... and check web sites while we are ostensibly in a meeting with other people.
We live in an age of continuous partial attention.
Always on. Always connected.
We don't want to miss whatever comes next. Whether or not it matters whether we miss that or not is a different question.
We are plugged in ... connected... wired...
... and almost never giving anyone our full attention.
And yet... in this attention-starved world, that is in fact the greatest gift we can give each other.
To be there.
In the moment.
Paying attention to what others are saying or doing.
It is insanely hard to do, for all those reasons listed above.
I definitely struggle with it... beyond all those reasons above, as a writer, my head is always exploding with new ideas, and it often involves a substantial effort to consciously park those ideas to remain present.
Yet, if we can do it, that is the greatest gift we can give.
The presents will fade. The toys will break. The clothes will be outgrown. The jewelry will be replaced. The electronics will become outdated.
But our presence - or lack thereof - will linger.
Will you give that gift this year?
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