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Amy Uyematsu wrote this poem for the Zen monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. In several books, he describes the peacefulness of drinking tea, washing dishes, and being a parent. The key to success, and it is hard to accomplish, is to be present and give one’s self over to the task, the person, and moment being shared.

Carl D’Agostino at I Know I Made You Smile reminded me today that the present is “very trying times for most of us.” It is. I find it easier to fictionalize the past and fantasize the future, but it is demanding to be present to the moment I share with someone else, a task, and/or an object.

The poem suggests this living in the present is not a task to be mastered, but something we engage with throughout our lives and it is hard work. Reading the poem gives me a sense of what a great role model Thich Nhat Hanh would be as he makes time for the present moment.

I read articles about mindfulness as a corporate strategy for leaders and followers alike. The authors often treat mindfulness as if it is something we can turn on and off at will, that there are 5 easy steps to follow. I know, from personal experience and missteps, that it is not that easy to live in the present moment each and every moment. The sunset I watch, the tea I drink, and the smiles I share with loved ones are not always easy to capture in the moment. It takes a life time of practice that is never complete.

How many years of suffering
revealed in hands like his
small and deliberate as a child’s

The way he raises them
from his lap, grasps the teacup
with sure, unhurried ease

Yet full of anticipation
for what he will taste in each sip
he drinks as if it’s his first time

Lifts the cup to his mouth,
a man who’s been practicing all his life,
each time tasting something new.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

8 responses »

  1. Very Beautiful โ™ฅโ™ฅ๐Ÿ’•

  2. I find that when I sweep up the mound of leaves fallen from the tree by my terrace, and gather them up to make a leaf garden I am in the moment! watering the plants too keeps me in the moment. your blog reminds me of many such times. putting medicine on my cat is another in the moment must thing!

  3. One reason living in the present is so difficult is the Ego we create. Our Ego never feels equal, at peace, he/she always feels inferior or superior to another. This creates inadequacies, a basic need for constant approval, validation.

    We bring judgment to every situation which takes away our present moment awareness. We are raised thinking we need great accomplishment for a successful, happy life. The present moment needs no accomplishment, and we need not accomplish anything to experience it.

  4. What a beautiful poem, and it certainly is a practice to stay present. Thank you for your words and especially as to how some portray it like something that can be mastered in 5 easy steps. It cannot. It is coming to that moment and really being present in that moment, which is not always easy. If it were, the world would certainly flow much better. However, each one of us that attempts to practice this way of being is making a difference and so I will continue and try not to judge myself to harshly (or others) when I am not mindful.


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