The power of presence

On my walk this evening, I passed by a small pink scooter laying along the side of the road (at the edge of a neighbor’s yard).  I didn’t think too much of it; I just assumed a child had temporarily abandoned it, and would retrieve it when they either became interested in it again, or when it was time to come inside for the evening.  So I turned the corner, headed down a cul-de-sac, and continued on with my stroll.

When I passed by the same lawn 10 minutes later, a young boy (around 6 years old) was riding the scooter, with a younger girl (around 4 years old) running after him, screaming the refrain I absolutely loathe to hear from children: “Give that back!!!!  GIVE IT!!!!  GIVE IT TO ME!!!  That’s MIIIINNNNNEEEE!”


As I approached the two kids, I didn’t say a word.  I didn’t even look at them, really.  I glanced at them, but when I saw them behaving so poorly, I fixed my gaze straight ahead, basically ignoring them.  (My policy is to give misbehaving children ZERO attention [unless they are going to get physically hurt – then I will intervene just strong enough and long enough to prevent harm], and to show them interest only when they have modified their behavior into a more acceptable manner.)  As I drew closer to the kids, the girl became quiet, and the boy stopped riding the toy.  When I was within a few footsteps of these two, the boy sheepishly handed the girl the scooter – to which the girl said in a quiet, embarrassed voice, “Hey, you can ride it if you want…”

Again, please note that I did not actively intervene in this scene at all.  I was simply a fellow human (albeit an adult one) bearing witness to the behavior being displayed.  Yet when the kids became aware of me, they became aware of themselves – and of how they were acting, and of how they knew they should be acting.  Their shift in behavior was a result of their own self-awareness becoming present, and of their hearts gaining power over their wants.  My presence was simply a mirror that provided them the opportunity to see their own selves more clearly.

Observing this transformation gave me a lot of hope.  It showed me:

  1. the positive power fellow humans can have on all of our lives (even strangers)
  2. that the magnitude of that power is mighty and vast, and
  3. that when push comes to shove, we naturally/authentically/instinctively know what to do.  We only need to get out of the way, and let our actions unfold as they want to (instead of how our egos want them to).

If two small children can overcome their self-centered, selfish tendencies, I am confident we adults can, too.  And this realization fills me with a lot of peace.


P.S.  As I left this scene, I was immediately reminded me of a brief post I read yesterday by a fellow blogger which also filled my heart with optimism and courage.  If you’d like to read that post, feel free to do so here.

P.P. S. On a completely unrelated (but fun) note: The candy bar persists!

Okay, I’m done for tonight.  🙂

About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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12 Responses to The power of presence

  1. barb19 says:

    That was a wonderful piece of human interaction you witnessed Stef, and it probably made more of an impact on you because they were children. Your reaction (or not, as was the case), stopped them in their tracks and made them realize how they were acting.
    There is hope for the human race after all!
    Thanks for sharing that little gem, it lifted my heart.


  2. Joceline says:

    it’s amazing, at times, when the mirror is before us, of what we see of ourselves.


  3. Hi Stef,
    You have terrific insight & I’m sure that your aura is strong( the kids didn’t stand a chance really).
    be good to yourself


    • Stef says:

      Aw, thank you so much for your kind words David! I have been told I have a ‘presence’ about me – and some days it’s nice to not have to shout to be ‘heard’. 🙂


  4. Thanks so much for visiting my blog today. You’re so right. When we see ourselves reflected in the silent eyes of another, we can change–for the better. Love your post. Blogging seems to do this for people, as well!


    • Stef says:

      Kathy, you are very welcome; it was my pleasure. Thank *you* for stopping by my space as well! Here’s to connections, in a variety of forms and fashions. 🙂


  5. Touch2Touch says:

    I don’t think this always happens. I think you must/do have a *presence* that is conveying the power of thought, or conveying the “mirror-ness”. Perhaps conveying the faith you are displaying in the children’s (and in everyone’s) power to stop, reflect, choose. I think that faith may be such a part of you that you don’t even realize the dynamic going on. If so, all the better.
    A beautiful example of what the late Jack Layton was saying, as quoted in Joss’s excellent post.


  6. Wow! That’s quite amazing how you just walking by had that kind of effect! 🙂


    • Stef says:

      It’s the power of social psychology – really. Experiments prove that we humans really DO behave very differently when we are conscious that other people are watching us (or at least are aware of us & our actions). We people can be funny. 🙂


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