Question 31 of 365: How can we be "present" in spite of our digital presence? #educon

Question 31 of 365: How can we be "present" in spite of our digital presence? #educon

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[Video to come]

I found myself more present at Educon than I have been in months. I sat and talked to people and looked them in the eye and felt an underlying purpose for the connections I was making. I felt this last year, but I had all of this disjointed connectedness (twitter hashtag following, e-mail checking, blog posting, etc.) that distracted me from simply being held in a given time and space and letting that be enough. This year, I was able to sit with the people that I love and listen and think and wait for something to occur the I couldn’t predict at the outset of the day.

Perhaps I was just too egotistical to believe there was anything more I could learn from a face to face community that is random than the network of people that I had hand picked to follow on twitter. I am now engaged in the act of belief.

I believe more passionately and irrationally in the power of seeing someone, truly seeing them for all of the hope they have and all of the baggage that they carry. I have faith in the fact that something fantastic will occur if I do not allow my distractions to get in the way of my real purpose for having the conversation in the first place.

I find myself asking if this is something I can replicate away from these people and this place. Can I really wrap myself in the glow of intense thought, passionate observation, and authentic speech?


I heard it last night from Chris Lehmann. Someone that he trusts once told him to never stop talking. Whatever he did, never stop thinking through the things he knows to be true and being a community of people who want to talk about those things and make them materialize. Another mentor of mine once said that “talking is the act of deciding your future.” Once you have said it, it comes into being.

So, to be present is to be talking. Not just with your mouth, but with your ears and your intention. Talking requires the will to be with someone and show them that you want to help them create the future.

And if you aren’t saying anything, then I have no use for you. If you aren’t someone who is really willing to “talk with me,” let me know that and I will find someone who will. I will be present in talking with anyone. There is something beautiful and perfect about talking with someone who will really talk back and push you and challenge you to create the future with them. I am here to do this, and I will never leave.

The digital connectedness should lead us to these moments. If we never have them because our technology gets in the way, then we are further away from one another and not closer together. If the technology keeps us from this kind of “talking”, it is a falsehood that I can’t afford. If I am truly searching for the truth of these questions, we need to talk more and tweet less.

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  1. Great thought – Sitting down and getting to talk and listen to other progressive educators is what I thrive on. I feel fortunate that the technology allows us to find more of these people and connect with them much easier than we could have in the past. Thanks for reminding us of the “Present” part. When I meet people like Chris Lehmann and many others that I have interacted with here at Educon it reminds of how important this is. Unfortunately, I think I need modeling in this area sometimes.

  2. bhwilkoff

    Absolutely. Without modeling, I forget to do it all of the time. When every
    meeting that I am in could take place with or without me. When any time I
    talk to someone, it isn't really me talking but my function, a little part
    of being present dies. I am changed by that process, a jagged edge. I just
    think that change is sanded down over time. I need to be reminded that being
    a jagged edge is valuable. I can catch everyone that way.

  3. This was 50 posts ago.
    Where are you now?
    Are you present?
    Are you still engaged in the act of belief?
    A clarity and simplicity of purpose lives in this post in a way that I sometimes see in my own journaling after moments when all I needed do was understand.
    Sometimes, reading these moments hurts when I return to them in moments of clouded clarity and complex simplicity.
    Sometimes, in that tumult, having these touchstones makes all the difference in my finding my way back.
    Are you still there?

  4. “Clouded Clarity and Complex Simplicity” – I love you. I'm not sure about
    the protocol for saying that in a blog comment, but when you are able to
    talk about where I am with such understanding, I'm not sure there is another
    word for it.

    I reread my post, and I think for the most part I really am still there.
    Even with all of the complications and false starts, I am still listening
    and talking in the way that I wanted to 50 days ago. I am still putting away
    my laptop more than I ever have. I am still looking for connections to
    people who are interesting and valuable for my growth.

    That is a part of what I was talking about on the phone today. It is the
    fact that I am only interested in being present like this that makes me
    unwilling to stop being present and persistently “talking and listening”
    long enough to get the things done that an institution wants out of me. It
    is hardest to be present like this when you are seen as a function. When I
    am the eLearning guy or the Moodle guy or the Tech Support guy, that is when
    I struggle with passion. Talk with me, and let's create it together.

    I guess it comes down to this: I am trying to make my work more Authentic
    now in the same ways that I was trying to make my teaching more Authentic
    two years ago. I think it has taken me this long to realize that I crave the
    same things that my students craved, which is why I think we may be onto
    something with putting schools into business.

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