Learning to Be Present Now

I just returned from the Catalyst Conference in Dallas where I spoke on the topic of my new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. The theme for this year’s conference series is “Be Present.”

Enjoying the Sun -Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/anouchka, Image #3781332

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/anouchka

This is a particularly powerful reminder for me. I seem to be always living in the future. I’m either planning my next big project or worried about how it will turn out.

But this reminds me that all I really have is now. The past is gone. The future is not guaranteed. This moment is a gift.

Maybe that’s why it’s called “the present.”

Every now and then we get a reminder about how fragile life is. We just can’t take it for granted. Each moment is precious.

For example, several years ago I was attending the early service at our church. My family was coming later in a separate car and had not yet arrived.

About twenty minutes into the service, one of my friends walked up behind me and whispered in my ear, “Michael, your family has been in a car accident. You need to leave now!

This is about the worst possible news I could imagine receiving. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any details. The wreck had occurred about two miles from our church.

I raced to the scene of the accident. But the traffic was backed up. I suspected it was because of the wreck. I parked my car on the side of the road and started running.

My heart was pounding. My mind was racing. I imagined the worst.

After running about a hundred yards, I saw a fire truck, police cars, and my family’s Suburban laying upside down against a telephone pole. It was completely crushed. All the windows were blown out and the roof had collapsed into the body.

Initially, I was confused, because I didn’t see my family. Then I heard my youngest daughter, Marissa, scream, “Daddy, Daddy.” I looked to my right, and she was running down the hill toward me—arms outstretched and crying.

Just beyond her, the other five members of my family were seated on the grass. They too were crying.

I scooped up my daughter and kept running toward my family. I couldn’t believe it. There wasn’t a scratch on any of them. They were shook up, to be sure, but no one was hurt.

As I later learned, my oldest daughter, Megan, had been driving. It was a country road. She veered off the pavement for a second, over-corrected, and then flipped the car. It had smashed into a telephone pole.

The sheriff told me that when he arrived on the scene, he called the life flight unit. He was just sure that the people in the car were either critically injured or dead. He kept describing what had happened as “a miracle.”

Indeed it was. I still tear up thinking about it.

That experience made me realize (once again) just how precious my family and friends are. I want to treasure every moment—and be present to them now.

The future will take care of itself. I want to learn to be present now.

Question: To whom do you need to be present today? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.matthewreedcoaching.com/ Matthew Reed

    I need to be more present for my school age boys…the reason I began working at home!

  • http://www.margaretfeinberg.com/ Margaret

    What a terrifying experience! I can’t imagine the emotions you must have been feeling as you raced toward that car and the relief you felt when you wrapped your arms around your family. Thanks for the reminder to be present!

  • Alickolli28

    “The past is gone. The future is not guaranteed. This moment is a gift. ”
    Immediately took my note book and wrote this in big capital letters. Thank you Michael. I am very glad that all your family members were safe.

  • Allyndpiansay

    It’s my husband, the only I’ve got beside me today… besides our dog.  Thanks for posting this powerful story and reminder.

  • Stephanie Romero

    I definitely want to be present with my family.  As a writer, I can get caught up in my work but nearly a week ago we experienced a traumatic event in our family that shook me to my core.  It was a reminder that you never know what life will bring your way…so enjoy every precious moment that you have.

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  • Brenda P

    Your post really hit home for me.  I have spent far too much of my life thinking
    about the future, trying to calculate every one of life’s possibilities and
    outcomes, and mentally preparing for each of the different scenarios.  This practice began to consume my mind to the
    point I was often told “I wasn’t listening” to others, and my relationships
    were beginning to suffer.  In truth, I
    was so focused on trying to control the future that I was unable to just be in the
    present.  One of my prayer requests this
    year was relief from the constant planning and the faith to turn the future
    over to God.  Thankfully, my prayers have
    been answered and today, my mind is at ease and I am able to live in and
    appreciate each moment for itself. 

  • STurner2

    Thanks for a great addition to my post today; I linked here. I was cleaning out my inbox and noticed I hadn’t open this your post which punctuates a statement I was attempting to make. You are a master story teller making this point more clearly than me. I have responded to many such accidents where a parent or husband find tragedy. I am grateful you found blessings.


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  • AmericanWriter

    This brought tears to my eyes. It just reflects how busy our God is when we aren’t there. I also pray for those who have lost loved ones – and wondering where God was for them.

  • Victoria

    Many days I look at my beloved and ask, ” Why doesn’t he see me?”.  I know I really see him, and I was able to help in early detection of his life threatening melanoma because of it. I recently watched a therapist giving advice on intimacy to a couple on the Bravo show “Pregnant In Heels” by recommending a treatment whereby a couple stares deeply into one another’s eyes. I think she called it “soul searching”. I was witness to a very personal transformation. Real eye contact is so essential, as it is the simple beginning of really seeing someone you love and making a deeper connection. 

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