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Blog Alan Seale, January 5, 2021 Transformational Presence  

At long last, it’s 2021. There were times when it seemed that we would never get here. 2020 was a year of challenge, loss, grief, confusion, uncertainty, isolation, separation, survival… I admit that I experienced all of those things. Yet even in the midst of all that, many people, myself included, also found clarity, stillness, love, connection, and a renewed sense of what really matters. Because of those gifts of 2020, I step into 2021 feeling empty and clear. Empty enough to be able to take in what is important. Clear enough to trust that I will recognize what is, in fact, important to take in. And perhaps just as important, what isn’t.  

While the losses I experienced in 2020 were profound and, to some degree, life-changing, what becomes increasingly clear to me is what I gained. To describe it in one phrase: I found deeper and deeper chambers in the heart of my being. Bringing it down to just one word, that word is “presence.” A deeper sense of presence than before. Both being more present to the moment than I have been before, as well as being even clearer about the presence that I am bringing to that moment. 

Each Moment is a Snapshot in Time

Spending so much time sheltering at home this past year, I learned a lot more about my presence with myself—how I show up with me, moment to moment. The more I was able to be present with myself, right here, right now, the more I was able to remember that life happens moment to moment—that each moment is only a snapshot in time. Every experience has become a part of the fabric of my life, a part of the totality of my life experience. Yet no single moment or experience defines my life or who I am unless I allow that. How I define my life in the bigger picture is up to me. 

I also learned more about being present with others. I found that the more present I could be with them, the more present they were able to be with their circumstance or situation. And that opened new doors of discovery, understanding, and acceptance. Evidence once again that our presence—how we show up to the moment and to each other—has an impact on what happens in the space around us.     

Moments in the Arc of our Lives

During the holidays, I spent time with photo albums and memory books that my mother had created over the years—books chronicling our family, places, and events spanning several generations back. I was particularly drawn to photos of each of my parents, of my grandparents, and of my sister and me. Each photo represented a moment in time—a moment in the arc of the lives they captured.   

It was such a gift to recognize the personal growth and evolution of each of my parents over time. With each photograph, I could sense who they were in that moment and how they were choosing to show themselves to the world. I could sense how life was going for them. I could celebrate who they were as people—both beautiful spirits—and observe how they evolved through the course of their lives into the extraordinary, open-hearted, and compassionate people they became. Each photo showed me another moment in their life journeys. I gained an even deeper understanding about why people were drawn to them and how they touched so many people’s lives. 

In the same way, as I looked at photos of myself, I could see my own evolution from birth to present day. I could remember my ups and downs, my struggles and my successes, and see through the photographs how I became increasingly comfortable in my own skin in the last couple of decades. Snapshots of moments in time. 

In the early months of the pandemic, I noticed that I was starting to live much more moment-to-moment and day-to-day than before. In hindsight, I realize that this wasn’t a conscious choice; it was a survival mechanism. However, the more I paid attention to living “right here, right now,” the more I realized I was actually living in this awareness for longer periods of time. This opened doors to deeper levels of presence than I had known before. For all of the challenges of 2020, I wouldn’t trade this experience of presence for anything. 

As time goes on, may we all be able to look back on 2020 as a moment in the arc of our lives. May we all be able to recognize our own learning and growth through the challenges of 2020. May we all recognize that who we are is much bigger than a particular time in our lives.

Navigating 2021

In 2021, life will continue to take unexpected twists and turns. It will bring some things that we hoped for and others we didn’t. It will ask us to let go of control and instead become masters at riding the waves of challenge and potential. It will offer constant opportunities for learning, for stretching our awareness and ways of thinking, and for expanding our worldview and our understanding of how life works. 

As we enter this New Year, may you find your own version of empty and clear. 

  • Empty enough to have room for what is important; clear enough to recognize what that actually is. 
  • Empty enough to see each moment as a snapshot in time; clear enough to let it simply be what it is—no more and no less. 
  • Empty enough to be present right here right now; clear enough to stay grounded in your own deep and powerful presence. 

When you are empty and clear in these ways, right choices and actions will follow. You will find your way.