Left: An Exploration of the Gift of Presence

 

Left/
verb: past tense: left; past participle: left
1. go away from. "she left New York on June 6"

Our conversation about “taking a break” was exceptionally genial. Laughter, tears, musings about our karaoke song selections when we see each other next. “When”…not “if.” We’ll always be in each other’s lives (even as the break has become permanent). It’s easy to do with a quick text.

And that’s the problem.

I feel a palpable sense of loss about the contraction of our communication. The intimacy of phone calls waned to the sparseness of texts. Our conversations became efficient recitations of the banal: daily errands, travel schedules, the weather. They shaped what parts of ourselves we revealed…or didn’t, and, in turn, what parts of our relationship we manifested…or didn’t.

The regression of our communication (and relationship) is not unique; it typifies the tyranny of technology over presence within the modern-day human experience.

Luminous letters have mutated to muted emails that have faded to fragmented text messages besieged with selfies and emoji. Fun-filled phone conversations have morphed into missed signals of mobile chats saturated with multitasking and “I can’t hear you…you’re breaking up”s. In short, the “what, why, and how” of our communications are now vastly different. And often not for the better. 

This social shift has produced subtle but grave effects on the human condition. These days, it’s hard to fully, uninterruptedly be with someone else. And it’s hard to be alone. We fill voids of free space with distractions, a panic of presence rooted in anxiety about getting behind or being left out. Recently, I have felt this anxiety more than I could've ever imagined. "How am I showing up in the world?" "Why are others showing up in the world in particular ways?" And "How might I show up differently?"