Be Present – a Lesson From Badminton

i should be in bed by now. instead, i am wide awake, listening to the clicking sound of my own keyboard typing. it is in the quiet of night i get to explore the inner part of me, the part that was hidden and cast aside during the rushed hours of the day.

have you ever woke out of bed and started doing things instinctively? we jump out of bed, brush our teeth, take a bath, pull out our outfit from the closet, get dressed, eat breakfast, drive to work, go about our day, drive home, eat dinner, read briefly, yawn, slip under the blanket and go to sleep. is it the same with you? most days, i do exactly like that.

one of my dad’s favorite childhood teaching was – be present. be there with yourself when your brain thinks, your mind plans, your hands touch, your heart feels and your lips speak. know what is being done at the moment and aim at the results. picture what you want for the final outcome.

dad and i loved playing badminton together. he taught me how to hold a racket, where to position myself in a court and how to serve burdies. he was an athlete. it was no doubt he was far more advanced than i was. but i dared myself to beat him. we were both competitive when it came to badminton. one evening, in the heat of my losing battle, when the sweat and tears blurred my eyes and my hands were shaking, dad shouted from the other side of the court,

“mink! don’t just hit burdies aimlessly! look at me, be present and serve!”

though i was young and didn’t even consider badminton as a career, i took the advice. i watched dad intensely, then looked at the burdie in my hand, threw it up and hit it with all my might…

if it were tennis, i scored an ace.

from that day on, i have tried to live by dad’s teaching – to be present in whatever circumstances, wherever i find myself in and whoever i am with. the moment is there for us to catch but, if we blink, if we don’t pay attention, it will slip away. and we might never get it back.

i am practicing being present every day. it is never easy, especially for us, women, who are multi-taskers. but it’s worthwhile. i literally instruct myself to brush my teeth, comb my hair, wash my hands, plan my work and do one thing at a time, as almost impossible as it might be. i also try to drop everything i am doing at the moment to be there for my family members or friends. sometimes the voices you listen to aren’t heard until you turn and look into their eyes.

working on being present is, to me, another form of meditation. it slows down my living pace, raises a sense of awareness of those around me and also directs my path. when your heart and head are clear, you hear the voice of the Lord even clearer.

the Bible scriptures show us how God is always present to us:

 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble. (psalm 46:1)

 “Am I only a God nearby,”
            declares the LORD,
   “and not a God far away?
Who can hide in secret places
   so that I cannot see them?”
            declares the LORD.     

“Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
            declares the LORD. (jeremiah 23:23-24)

yes, i know that, though we were made in His image, we are not God. and we can’t fill the whole heaven and earth the way He does. BUT we can make impact in someone’s world by being present in their lives. your mom and dad. your siblings. your spouses. your children. your friends. your lovers. your colleagues. your neighbors. how can we influence these people if we are distracted and drawn away all the time?

what are getting your attention now? your facebook friends or someone sitting next to you asking when we can go out for lunch?  your unfinished marketing plan or your children’s plea for you to just take a look at their drawing? the corrupted influence over 100 people at work or the honest life-changing impact in a sunday-school child’s life?

living is making choices. even though i am still young and foolish, believe me, i have been to the moment of complete absence. i never realized i missed so much until everything passed away.

::time is of the essence. when it flows, it doesn’t return. be wise::


About Mink Gough

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9 View all posts by Mink Gough

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