I was halfheartedly rooting for the Heat tonight when my sister called. As we talked, I absentmindedly flipped through a children’s book for Spanish (I’m trying to learn, for real this time), read a few lines of Valdes-Rodriguez’s Dirty Girls Social Club, checked my Facebook feed to see what people were thinking about the very tense game, then looked at my email. I was rooting around my desk for the July issue of Vogue when I realized that I missed part of what my sister was saying.
Everybody does this, right? Tell me I’m not alone. I had my laptop, my Nook, twelve books around me, the phone to my ear, and the game on…while I reached for my french press.
I didn’t really think it was too much of a problem until I realized that I had not had a moment of real rest all day. Even when I’m doing several things I truly enjoy, I don’t get to enjoy them because I’m not really present. I’m never right there, in the moment, just reading that book, or cooking dinner, or running. Instead, I’m making up to do lists, yelling at the Pimsleur audio recording (ENTIENDE! Si!), and chopping up jalapeño peppers, which I always, ALWAYS end up rubbing into my eyes.
Unsurprisingly, this desperate need to juggle twelve things at the same time once applied to my romantic relationships. I didn’t date in high school, so I made up for lost time in my 20s with a dizzying array of first dates with men who I chose never to see again. I always did it for the story–for that brilliant moment when I could, over brunch and mimosas, tell my girls about a ridiculous toast a man made while I was forced to drink the cheap champagne he bought. Recently, after a lot of prayer, I decided to slow all that down. Why? Because my frantic dating was really about my fear of being known by another human being. I worried that someone would see who I really was and then…abandon me. So I just kept going out on first dates.
Yes. I am a commitment phobic. A commitment phobic who wants to get married, but one nonetheless.
So I stopped dating the random men, gave up my amusing stories, and am focusing on the Lord, the healing process, and on one friendship. I miss dating, but these days every man who expresses interest wants more than one date. They talk marriage in the first week, a house in the second, babies in the third. They want me to pick up the phone when they call. They want me to emotionally support them. So I don’t get to do the carefree dating I used to.
The Loyalty Project, as I’ve named this year, is all about me being present. I am trying to actively invest my time and energy into one thing and one person at a time. Sometimes I fail, but when I do focus, I feel so much better in those moments. I can give love and receive love in ways I always wanted to, but didn’t think was possible. I’m more vulnerable, to be sure, but it’s worth it.
What do y’all think? Is it possible to be present in all relationships, or are there only a few special people and projects that get your attention?