When I started this Year of Presence project at the turn of the year, I thought I would master presence within the first couple of months and then spend the rest of the year, and my service, living in the now.
It’s not that simple.
Being present is not something you achieve and never look back on, such as visiting a dreamy destination or passing a test. Rather, you have to practice presence each day and admit that some days you won’t be so good at it.
In the ninth month of this 12-month project, I’ve had more moments of living for the present than any previous set of 30 or so days. I am far from perfect at it, and I admit that I never will be, but I at least know that I am capable of being here, and nowhere else. I understand that how I react in this moment means more than what I did and what I will do.
Instead of counting down the minutes until class was through, I embraced that precious time with my students and tried to be the best teacher that I could. I disregarded my intentions to journal on a mountaintop while a group of children, who accompanied me up, sang songs and recited the only English phrases they know. And, although I craved a nap, I helped a group of bo-me cut vegetables for my host brother’s graduation party. These moments, although small and seemingly insignificant, brought me a pure smile that I couldn’t achieve if reading a book or wondering about decisions I can’t undo. They are recorded in my memory and will be some of the first I go to when I am gone and longing for Lesotho.
Someday, all I will have left is memories and photos. I want to be good at living in the present and it is disappointing to me that now, nearly a year in Lesotho, I am finally learning how to do so. But, that can’t bother me because it is unimportant and berating myself is only harmful. What matters is each day and what I do with it. What matters is the love and care I offer to each person each day. At this point in my life, the rest irrelevant.