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Perennial Presence

By John Blumberg, Andersen Alumnus and author of Return On Integrity (www.BlumbergROI.com)

Have you ever had one of those moments when you were thinking about a friend and your phone rings – and it was them calling you? I have a friend where, on several occasions, our emails have passed through each other in cyberspace. And, of course, there are those stories of a twin on one side of the country who feels the unknown sickness of the other twin thousands of miles away. These experiences can feel so unusual and unexplainable.

These simultaneous moments of connections show themselves in a variety of ways. They present themselves somewhat as a stunning surprise possibly because they do seem so rare. So unique. But what if they’re not. What if the issue isn’t their scarcity of occurrence?

What if the issue is our absence of awareness?

We live in a world of distraction — and in doing so, some would say, we major in the minors. We make a big deal out of the mundane while completely ignoring the profound. Let me make this very concrete: when was the last time you were face down in the screen of your phone perusing a plethora of mindless texts while right behind you the miracle of a sunrise goes completely unnoticed?

The sun “rises” every single day, yet most could probably count on one hand how many sunrises they have fully noticed in the last year. Yet this profound miracle happens each and every day whether we notice it or not.

The frequency of our experience depends on the presence of our awareness.

While this may seem vague and useless – hang with me for just a bit. It may prove more practical than meets the eye. This month, we begin our sixth month of social distancing. I have seen studies where experts pronounce that a change of habit takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days. That’s quite a range likely depending on the habit – yet, wherever the truth falls, we are well on our way to something new.

What if one of those new habits was the experience of profound presence outside the realm of physical location. We have had numerous opportunities to experience just the opposite – no presence, whatsoever, amongst a group of people all in the same room.

In the midst of this pandemic, it seems that geographic boundaries are being blown away. Many organizations are discovering an antiquated mindset of needing employees to be located in any predefined physical space. Not only does it dissolve one of the highest costs on a company’s financials, it removes all barriers from where employees can be resourced. On the flip side, it provides endless opportunities for employees to choose where to live.

The very reality, that we couldn’t be together, forced the question: do we really need to be?

Some would immediately push back with a logical response – we are social beings wired for connection. That is true. Yet, what if we are on the verge of developing an entire new sense of connection. A perennial presence if you will. A presence of connection that doesn’t depend on physical space, but on a deepened sense of a cultivated awareness.

In simple terms, think of one of your life-long friendships that has experienced gaps between your time together. Yet, when you meet again, it is as if time has never passed. You pick right back up where you left off. Over the years, I have frequently shared this thought when we have reconnected: If you only knew how many times I’ve thought of you since we last connected, you would know that we have never been very far apart. I don’t just say it – I mean it.

I don’t toss all of this out as an appetizer of sci-fi, but rather as a moment to pause and notice a profound phenomenon that has already been underway. The pandemic may have simply served-up a practical context for us to notice the possibility and potential that awaits.

Technology has given us a taste of this by providing tools that allow us to reside sometimes thousands of miles apart — yet still be so connected. What if these tools, on the outside, provided us just enough of an experience to open our eyes to the potential that sits untapped on the inside? It’s a potential that has leaked-out every now and then in simultaneous combinations of a thought and the ring of a phone, or through crossing emails in cyberspace or twins sharing a mutual experience on different sides of the world or beyond.

At best we have noticed them and at worst we have written them off.

Rather than writing this off, it might be worth pausing and pulling-up a porch rocker to think about it for a while. You never know — you may unknowingly start rocking in complete synchronicity with someone completely unlike you on the other side of the world. There is always that chance that you become very aware of it. If nothing else, if you time it right, you might catch a wonderful sunrise – that, in itself, would be a great start.

Never underestimate the gifts that can be delivered in a time of momentous uncertainty. I am reminded of the words penned by Marianne Williamson: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

Could this very well be the defining moment when we turn on the light to a perennial presence whose connection knows no borders or boundaries?

As always, I would love for you to share your own thoughts below … and perhaps one of your own simultaneous moments of connection!