An insightful friend wrote to me this morning: "When a person is 'present,' he/she is nowhere else. Just here. That is all there is to it, and, of course, much easier said than done…. When I am just here, and nowhere else, I have no thoughts about what I am about to say, what he or she is about to say, what I have to do next…. I am just here and nowhere else."

As someone who struggles with "Blackberry on the Brain," and with the difficulty of being truly present whilst feeling torn in multiple directions, these words struck a chord.

But every worthy objective needs a tool. How does one become "present"?

It's not about me and my day, me and my Blackberry, or me and my future appointmentsIt brought to mind an insight which I once heard from the Rebbe:

In the Torah, G‑d commands the Jews to contribute half a shekel (a form of currency) to a fund for the Tabernacle's needs.

The Torah describes the shekel as being twenty gerah (a smaller currency), which would obviously make the half-shekel ten gerahs.

But the Torah doesn't say "contribute ten gerahs"; it emphasizes that it needs to be half a shekel.

Why, the Rebbe asked, does the Torah employ (seemingly) roundabout verbiage to emphasize a "half" concept?

Deepening the question, the Rebbe noted that the same contribution seems to emphasize a contrary message: The Torah instructs that the donation itself not be in installments; one needed to give the entire contribution at one time.

So one needed to give half a shekel, as a whole (undivided) contribution.

What is the Torah trying to tell us?

The Rebbe explained it this way:

If you want to give of yourself whole-ly to a person or situation, then you need to recognize your own "Half-ness."

As I understand it, if I want to be totally present in any situation, I need to rise above my preoccupation with what's happened or what will be, the part of my brain invaded by thoughts of where else I need to be and when. I need to recognize that the person/situation deserves undivided attention. Because it's not about me and my day, me and my Blackberry, or me and my future appointments. It's about us. Me and you. Me and what I'm facing at the moment.

At present, I'm only half the equation. When I really respect that, I'm ready to be here.

In full. For real.