When I was 17, I had to give a short talk to my classmates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I did a little research the day before by discussing it with my dad (an authority on the world and how it worked, in my eyes at least) and figured I got the gist of it. I stood up in front of class and gave my bottom-line conclusion that summed it up for me. It took me all of 2 minutes. My homeroom teacher was incredulous. That’s it??? He said.
And suddenly my audacity seemed so shameful to me that I just wanted to disappear.
Since then, I have neurotically over prepared for every talk I have ever given…
So, what does presence/showing up actually mean? I know that it didn't mean much to me before. I thought OK I'm physically there but ….?
Last week I gave a talk and demonstration to a group of young kids about dressage. It should have been something I could do in my sleep, but because I was haunted by that past experience, I prepared lots of information for them, and I talked out the fear of /empty space, not having enough to say, I just used that prepared stock of words. They were appropriate to the demonstration going on, and probably even valuable technically, but I was not being present.
I could feel that my knowledge was not very useful to the kids at the workshop without my presence.
I reflected on what was actually missing. I asked myself: what would being present have looked like in that situation? I realized that I had not connected with them. I was not listening to that subtle current that flows towards you from the other. Because of my fear of failure, I was busy sending my current towards them without picking up on their energy and what they needed at that moment. I wasn’t connected! And that my friends, is what I discovered being present means for me.