When I trudged wearily through the door at 6:30 or a quarter-to-seven each night, my five-year-old daughter Kelsey ran to me the instant I appeared in the house. She threw her arms around me and told me how much she loved and missed me as she looked into my eyes with pure joy. She then began to tell me all about the wonderful things that happened to her all day—special, magical things that only happen when you are five years old.
And, I missed it. I didn't hear a word she said. You see, when I walked in that door, my body showed up. But, my mind, my heart, and my spirit were still back at the office. The most important people in my life were right there, at home, waiting for me and I never really saw them or heard them when they most needed me because I was not present.
This went on for months until one morning as I drove into work I suddenly realized what my lack of presence was communicating to my wife and child. In that excruciating moment it felt as if someone had bashed me full-force in the stomach with a sledge hammer. Emerson once said "What you do screams so loudly I can't hear a word you're saying." Nothing screams so loudly as our presence or lack of presence. Every evening when I marched blankly through my front door, my thoughts still focused on the day's events or worried about tomorrow's, I expressed to Carole and Kelsey much more clearly than through words that they were not as important as all those other matters. As I continued to drive that morning, all I could see in my mind was Kelsey's shining eyes so filled with love. I was overcome with suffocating feelings of remorse and loss. Sobbing uncontrollably I finally recognized how many precious moments of connection I had lost with her and with Carole by not being present. In that instant I understood for the first time that there was nothing more important to me than becoming a master of being fully present for those I love. It was time to make the choice to come home.