My last lesson in presence was five years ago. I had just lost my 17-year-old sister, Chantal, in a car accident. After many evenings spent nursing myself on the couch with Grey’s Anatomy reruns and BBQ potato chips, I found myself at a dance class. I stumbled awkwardly through the routine, but that didn’t matter. I had found a moment of joy, a moment of presence. A break from my own head. As I write this letter, it is the eve of what would be Chantal’s 23rd birthday, and I’ve just had another lesson in presence.
My side hustle recently became my main hustle. I quit my full-time job and propelled myself full speed into the launch of Vancouver’s Formation Studio with the mission of helping others find presence through dance movement, just as I had in the depths of my grief.
The change to being a full-time entrepreneur has provided a new perspective on presence in the context of how I move through my day.
Before, I often found myself working frantically with a head full of thoughts, commitments, and priorities to juggle. My mind would jump to the tasks ahead of me before I was finished with the task at hand. It would feel like I was sucking at one thing and then before I was finished I would change directions and start sucking at the next thing on my list. I hadn’t yet realized that doing the most didn’t necessarily equal my best.
But at the end of my first day as a full-time entrepreneur, I realized that while tactically much of my day was the same, I was now fully present and focused on just one task at a time. This presence is what I had been missing. I was so caught up trying not to let anyone down that I couldn’t be present with my tasks.
Moving our bodies often provides a pocket of time where we are focused solely on the moment we’re in. For me, dance is where my mind and body align as soon as the music plays. But there is tremendous power in moving through our entire lives with this sense of presence. All of our task lists are seemingly never ending. But if we can live in each moment for as long as we need to before we move on, it allows us to be present with what we are doing. At the end of the day, we fall asleep exhausted but fulfilled; we’ve given each person we’ve interacted with and each task we’ve tackled the full attention it deserved.
Founder + Owner of Formation Studio
This article originally appeared in the February 28, 2020 edition of The Friday Letter.
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