Charles Starrett

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Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.

Presence is a gift

When I was in college, my depression that I had held under lock and key began to come to the surface. I had no idea what was happening, but there were times when I fell into very dark moods.

I remember that during one of these struggles with despair I decided to see if I would feel better if I went down to the basement of the dorm to practice piano. Soon after I settled in and started playing, I heard the practice room door open. My roommate came in with his books, sat down with his back against the wall, and started to study.

He said nothing, and I said nothing. I practiced, and he studied. When I was done we walked back up to the room together. I thanked him for being there, and he simply said, “Of course.”

There wasn’t anything to be said. I didn’t know what I was going through and neither did he. He didn’t know what to say and I didn’t know what I needed to hear.

In that moment, his presence was perfect. His presence told me that he cared. In that moment when I felt that it would be better if I didn’t exist, his presence sent me the message that it mattered that I did exist.

Living, working, and being human can be complicated and difficult. There aren’t always words to express what we’re going through, or words that can heal in the moment.

Beginning with the gift of presence is always a good first step. And sometimes our genuine presence is all a person needs.

6 July 2022

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