Your Presence is Requested

“Presence with others is first about showing up.”

Presence (Amy Cuddy)

Who are the most important and influential people in your life? Growing up, very likely it was the friends and family who you were around and see on a regular basis. They showed up for birthday parties and graduations. You hung out in each other’s homes just doing whatever, sometimes nothing in particular. Simply being around each other was enough. In high school, college, and into your 20s, regularly being around people this was often still the determining factor in who you were close to and you mattered to you. That setting could be a school, church, or your job.

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On Vulnerability

Definition: “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded”

(courtesy of Merriam-Webster)

At an undetermined point during my youth, I made a decision. Being an INFP and generally anti-confrontation and avoidant of difficult or painful situations, I became more intentional about trying not to put myself in places where I could be hurt or emotionally wounded by others. What better way to avoid pain than by avoiding activities that could involve pain? So what if some of those same activities also had the opportunity for real connection, warmth, love, and healing? Guess I missed out.

The goal was to protect me from any more pain.

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Open Seating

Well before I got interested in photography, I always found myself drawn to empty spaces, to those quiet places. The ones most enticing are those found against the loudest of backdrops. They pull me in with their temptations of possibilities and of unheard and overlooked stories. It’s in the stillness which listening is best done.

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The Art of Miscommunication

In the last few years, the written word has gained increasing importance in how we connect and communicate with people. As we rely on writing over speaking because we all have come to hate phone calls because… reasons. And because we also don’t live in a TV world where friends decide to meet up to chat about the most mundane and vital of topics, we are left with text messages, instant messaging, emails, etc. The problem is we can be terrible at saying what we mean.

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You Are Who You Are When Everyone’s Watching

“You are who you are when nobody’s watching.”

Stephen Fry

Be on your best behavior! Whether you are a leader in an organization or a parent with kids or someone else altogether, who we are is on display for the world to see and take in, In the minds of others, internal notes and understandings about your character and demeanor are constantly being logged, revised, erased, rewritten, tweaked. In case any of you are wondering, yes I am doing this with some or many of you on a semi-regular basis and reflect on who you are and how you became the person you are today and who you may become in the future. Call me curious about the human condition.

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Sometimes You Wanna Go…

… where you can be with friends. At bars. With free waffles.

I’m a creature of habit and comfort. I go back to the things I know and am familiar with more often than exploring what’s new. I will rewatch shows such as 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation (or most recently, How I Met Your Mother) over a new show. The familiar backdrop of offices, apartments, coffee shops, or bars combined with characters I’ve come to know far too well allow me to focus on the deeper themes and tiny nuances of the stories upon subsequent repeat viewings. I start to look beyond the face value jokes and conversation to the deeper meanings and messages of what’s being said.

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Words Matter

(Image: Keflavik Airport, Iceland. Its contrast to my post struck me.)

A few years ago, I wrote a couple of blog posts about the lack of interactive and thoughtful discourse (part one & part two). I’ve been thinking about this topic again recently as I’ve watched the ability to have rational conversation deteriorate in America with little visible hope that our behavior will change in the near future. We recoil any time we hear or read something that conflicts with our worldviews. Instead of pausing to absorb the message we took in and understand where that person or group is coming from, the new “proper” response is to lash out and tell them why they are wrong. How dare someone disagree with me!

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