In the last few months, I’ve thought about the two words, “show up,” and what these words mean. So much hinges on showing up and yet, sometimes it almost seems like the most difficult thing to do. It’s hard to show up – consistently. I think about the ways I haven’t given it my all – skirting my writing practice, letting my reading fall behind, failing to eat well and skimping on exercise. It’s easier to say, tomorrow, but how many next days are we allotted to institute a sustainable change?
It is easy to give in. Why exercise when the pounds aren’t melting off? Why write when no one comments? Why show up when we don’t see results? I’ve found, it is here, when it is particularly important to follow through. When I stop showing up, irritation mounts and impacts other areas of my life. My focus in my twenties and early thirties focused on tangible results. If I studied, I achieved good grades. If I worked hard at my job, I secured a promotion or bonus. If I dedicated myself to a project, I anticipated success. In midlife, the linear lifelines of my younger self aren’t as neat or defined clearly. There are lines, but some of them smudge and blur as I navigate the uncertain spaces.
What does showing up look like in my life?
Showing up means writing when there isn’t anyone reading or commenting or in the midst of several rejections. When the blank page is a menace, it is the precisely time to ink out a few words. My creative writing professor told me years ago, if you write everyday, you are a writer. And this advice is significant especially when you see yourself as an impostor in your writing life. When the words are stuck or are in limbo, it is the optimal time to keep pushing.
Showing up means exercising even when you aren’t realizing your goals. I’ve laced up my shoes many times in the last few weeks, heading to the gym or running before the heat is too unbearable. It doesn’t always feel great to anticipate exercising, but I am always grateful I’ve reserved some time to move my muscles and feel the rise of my pulse. The mental clarity that arrives from exercising is invaluable.
Showing up means chauffeuring my daughter to summer camps, even when it’s the last thing I want to do. It’s her summer and her time to enjoy and experience various interests and activities. Driving my daughter around town isn’t on the top of my mom list, but I realize its importance. Showing up means doing those things for your children without complaining about them.
Showing up means checking in with your spouse, greeting him or her after a long day and making it about the other person, instead of yourself. It isn’t unimportant, especially if you’ve spent several years in a relationship. It is the little things that keep a marriage and any relationship an enduring one.
Showing up means picking up the phone (not texting or emailing) and talking with a friend. I was reminded of this just recently, when a good friend said, “Ru, does anyone talk on the phone anymore? I needed someone a few months ago and wanted to talk.” Showing up is especially important in friendships – check-in with your friends. Parties and celebrations are a hallmark of a fun friendship, but it’s the showing up in the ordinary times that sustain a balanced relationship.
Showing up means letting go on all the things that aren’t quite right. It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves, for what we haven’t accomplished or haven’t said or haven’t contemplated, but, remember, that’s all of us. Showing up means learning to not only be gentle with others, but ourselves too.
I leave you with a confession. I didn’t want to show up in this space today. Call it resistance, summer or lack of motivation – I showed up anyway. And maybe it doesn’t matter to you, but for me, it’s everything.
Image: A twankly mess, Somewhere deep in the Sierras, Ca by ™ Pacheco via Flickr.