People’s lives take them strange places, Alan Moore observed, they do strange things, and, sometimes, they can’t talk about them. During these times, welcoming silence rather than speech, presence and the absence of words or advice, may be more therapeutic than most anything else, allowing the mind and the heart space for roaming, freedom to both think and feel as one needs to, in the moment, and without any judgments or preconceived notions about how best to cope with the strain of life. The strange simultaneity of life’s happenings can be disorienting: a Toyota commercial runs across a television screen with shiny vehicles and smiling faces while miles away in the very same moment a ten-year-old boy dies in the Ukraine, and, the world moves on.
Presence pools, wherever you are, gathering where it will, haunting the hills of the desert, glowing amidst daylight dancing across the dawn, hovering over the face of the oceans, or gently across a bed of pine needles lining the shadowed floors of the forest. It only takes a moment to notice the ways in which a place calls to you, and has a way of getting into you, its presence gradually stilling the noise and commotion within, or how being in the presence of another who cares, without any discourse at all, can bring you a sense of peace. Usually you notice the presence of a person or place when there is absence: the absence of words, a lack of activity, some sudden deficit in the plans for the day. When you are graced by the presence of a friend, there can be healing, an invitation to rest, permission simply to be. Once touched by the presence of another in love, friendship, or through shared suffering, you are never the same. You are left with an invisible and unerasable mark, a type of totem, imperceptible to the eyes, yet more real and precious than riches or any possessions could ever offer.
Presence lives and breathes in symbiosis with posture. How an environment holds itself together gives birth to a very particular kind of atmosphere, and the way you carry yourself, throughout the day, in the midst of difficulty, in the face of life’s welcomed and unwelcomed surprises, all of this communicates something of your essence to others, an unintentional commentary on who you actually are. Simply by your being, without any effort, the aura of identity extends, permeating your surroundings, imbuing those close to you, and never once indifferently.