I am sitting in a soft folding chair in a grassy field. Even though it is only 0900 as I write this the sun is already beating down and the dew that glistens on the grass will soon evaporate. It will only grow hotter as the day progresses and the bugs will soon have their feast on us. By the end of the day my hair will be falling out of it’s ponytail and I will be sticky from the bug spray and stinky from the heat and looking at another late night. It’s ok though, I’m embracing the suck because I am present. 

My daughter’s high school marching band is in it’s second week of band camp. On Sunday the band left home to spend three nights at away camp. I accompanied them because I am volunteering as the marching band nurse. My job is to administrator prescribed medications, provide first aid, moral support and assist with anything else that arises. This is the fourth year I’ve volunteered as the marching band nurse and the third year I’ve been at this camp. 

The purpose of going to this camp is for uninterrupted rehearsal time. Consistency is essential in marching band. In order to be consistent, interruptions must be alleviated. Consistency builds discipline and in the world of high school marching band, this yeilds success. The schedule of rehearsals and team building activities remains the same each year. This band returns home from away camp as a united, disciplined band. 

Even though I’ve been on board with the culture of marching band since my son entered his freshman year of marching band fall of 2012, I’ll admit it took me two summers of attending this away camp to appreciate their traditions which have remained the same for many years. I used to think some of the activities were childish perhaps because I wasn’t included or that I was lonely for my band parent peers. Now I realize they are essential. 

Sunday I drove to this camp with similar feelings of dread but was quickly and pleasantly surprised on how my attitude changed… for the better. All of the things that have irritated me in previous years seemed to have evaporated as soon as I pulled into the camp. 

This year I’ve had kids approach me with a variety of issues; physical issues and psychosocial. I’ve invested time since day 1 of this year’s band camp communicating with their parents, reassuring them from one parent to another that this marching band is a good place for their child. I’ve spent time with the kids, tending to their individual needs, getting to know them, learning to look past their adolescence into their hearts to understand what issues and concerns in life they have and how I can help them at the moment. 

Being a nurse who works in a hospital, things like this are part of my daily work life as a registered nurse and of course I’ve applied my same hospital work ethics to my work here as volunteer marching band nurse. These kids deserve my very best care. 

In my personal life, through various ways, I spend a great deal of time looking for ways to improve my spirituality by releasing fear,  maintaining a positive outlook during difficult situations, practicing daily gratitude and learning to experience joy wherever I go. I’m learning to be present. 

I don’t know how it happened or which electrical pathways in my brain decided to synapse, but I’ve been extremely aware of and focused on my purpose here, leaving insecurities and worries of other parts of my life behind. 

Last night as darkness quickly approached during the final moments of rehearsal, I watched this tired band give everything they had and bust their asses until the very end and the music they produced moved me to a state of joy.  I felt myself being completely consumed in the moment and I realized that I’d been present and focused on my purpose here since the moment I pulled into this camp. 

Finally I have captured the essence of being present. Now that it’s in my grasp, I will not let go. I can continue to grow and master it even more. I am present. 

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