What I’m Learning About Presence

Erin Cutshall
May 2024

Life has a way of continually moving on. In my own life, my youngest graduated from high school last week and will leave for college in August. I’ll be officially an empty nester, as they say, although my actual experience of adult children so far is that they leave home and then come back again and then leave and come back, so I suspect that what looks like an empty nest is going to be much more of a liminal space than it sounds like it will be. I anticipate yo-yoing from empty nester to full-time mom many times over the coming years. As I continue to navigate the one-thing-after-another, challenging world of being a human, I keep bumping up against places where I worry about being enough in some way. Am I spending enough time with her? Am I letting him do enough on his own or is this too much independence and he needs me? Did I teach them enough about life and set a good enough example? How will I keep finding ways to stay connected with them when they really are gone from my home for good?

When I find myself in those places, my mind naturally goes to our equine friends as an example of how to navigate my world. Imagine a horse, wandering through a field thinking thoughts about how they should have shown up better yesterday in some way or how they don’t think they are enough today or imagining a tomorrow in which they are afraid of not having something. That kind of thinking isn’t available to them. For better or for worse, it is available to us as humans and we use it as an unwieldy crutch that seems like it might somehow create some safety. What the horses are doing that I’m lacking in those anxiety-filled moments, is simply being present. Presence just takes a moment to drop into. All I have to do is notice what’s going on in the environment around me, or in my own body and I’m present and all that worry is gone, and I’m more horse-like. I imagine myself wandering around in the field of my own life, just present to all that is. Maybe my children are there, or maybe they aren’t, but in that moment, when I drop into presence, all is well.   

The Center for Equus Coaching