I remember particularly in high school hearing my name called on a roll, and responding either 'here' or 'present'. How many of those hundreds of times was I present, engaged, eager and fully in the moment and how many times did I answer appropriately when I was somewhere else entirely in my mind? I suspect that the ratio might not be anywhere near 50/50 let alone 80/20 or better. I don't think I even was aware of being present or not. I had one block of time that I was fully engaged each day, and it was in concert choir. I lived for it in relationship to school; otherwise it was friendships and boys or boys and friendships.
And so it was with the next twenty something years; present in relationship to music, boys (my husband) and being a mother. I'm fortunate in that part of my life's highlight reel is music and that is what I got to do for a living for 25 years so I was present in my work. In special moments in my work, I was transcended with joy - so fully in the moment that I was all flow and no thought and for that I am grateful. I know what present is, I know what present means, and I know when it's missing.
Enter Five Hundred Miles. For the past three or four years, music performance has quietly faded from my regular experience, and it's been by choice. At some point I was no longer willing to have a completely opposite schedule from my husband's, and I scheduled less and less shows until in 2012, I played exactly two shows in 365 days. What brought me fully to the moment was no longer there, and I suffered. I floundered, I hid from friendships so I could hide from myself. I disconnected enough that my inner voice, my heart's soundtrack became so faint that at times I didn't even hear it. And one day I became aware of a five hundred mile pilgrimage, a walk with one's soul, and my heart began to hum again a little. I am going to walk the Camino de Santiago in a little over ten months from now, and again I hear music. I am remembering how it feels to be present.