Updated: Nov 6, 2022
Many of us live our lives as if we were, metaphorically, absentee landlords. An absentee landlord is one who owns and rents real estate but isn’t present. Most of us live our lives without being mentally present. Our bodies are there doing things, but our mind is someplace else. Much of the time we go through our days on automatic, as when driving while listening to music or daydreaming and only the tiniest part of our mind is paying attention to the road. Have you ever done that? I have. I clearly remember when a car suddenly cut in front of me and my mind was ripped out of its reverie and back to the road.
Afterward, I realized that my attention was elsewhere and was glad to have avoided a collision. To a greater extent than most of us would like to admit, this sort of absentee functioning is common.
Two people are talking with one another, looking each other in the eye, but often, in the secrecy of their own minds, they aren’t completely there. Maybe they are planning their next event or thinking of what to say next. It’s rare that someone is totally there. I’ve done some experiments in which I practiced completely listening, and at those times the people I was conversing with felt heard and honored in a way that they had not felt when my mind was secretly scattered.
This lack of presence in life diminishes one’s experience of life. Living without presence means not completely feeling nor completely experiencing life.
A key aspect of Sage-ing is to embrace our spiritual side and integrate it into our lives and a natural effect of doing so is to become more present.
In the seventy plus years that I’ve been alive, I’ve met a small number of people who I felt were totally present. All were advanced spiritual teachers. Presence is something that develops as one deepens his or her spiritual, contemplative practice.
Once presence develops, engaging in the simplest activities can be joyful, because then one is completely there.
If you are happy being an absentee landlord, fine. Enjoy. But if you’d like to experience life more fully, the way is to engage in contemplative spiritual practices. Doing so will literally sew the scattered pieces of your mind together and make them whole.