Showing Up

Have you ever reached into a pocket and felt something that seemed familiar? Maybe you hadn’t thought about it in a while, but touching it reminded you of its existence? Often when it happens to me, I touch the object. Rub it around in my hand. Feel the nooks and crannies. I wonder why it is in the pocket and what should be done with it. Usually the toy or trinket made it into my pocket, because it doesn’t have a proper home. Almost universally, it is something that has been forgotten until it presses into my palm or tickles my fingers.

I find that advice is like the orphan trinket. It might have been very pertinent and important prior to getting tucked away, but resurfaces almost mysteriously as nobody was really looking for it. Perhaps it was something meaningless that got pushed down into a pocket with the thought that one day it would come in handy, unsure of how that handiness might look.

A couple of months back a friend was hearing me out about a difficult situation I was trying to rectify. She almost in a whisper said, “Sometimes it is just about showing up.” In the moment, I wanted a deeper answer. I wanted a solution that had purpose and direction. I wanted to fix the situation. Showing up seemed so… passive. I tucked it away like a spurned trinket.

In the weeks that followed, I twisted and turned those words in my head. How could they fit? Wasn’t there a better way? The more I wrestled, the more I realized that showing up was active. Heck, when it comes to hiring contractors my deal breaker is can they show up. My friend was on to something and it was big. When it comes to relationships, showing up is half the battle. Showing up means that you are meeting a person somewhere in the middle (or maybe exactly where they are, because it is too much to bear to move from the current position). Showing up means you are there to engage. When things are difficult, showing up means having courage to face the ugly.

I embraced this seemingly simple piece of advice for the specific situation. After appreciating its importance, I tucked it away not to be seen again until yesterday.

Yesterday, I was struggling trying to figure out what to do. In my spare time, I volunteer for a local non-profit. I’m passionate about the mission of the organization and my skills were needed to support the organization. I’m also the President of the Board of Directors, which means I have one of the many employees of the organization reporting into me, the executive director. We have worked together for almost four years closely. I found out yesterday that her father passed away.

The visitation is tonight and the funeral tomorrow with burial to follow. The services are an hour and a half away. I am busy. I already had ordered flowers. Funerals are exhausting. I had justified all of my reasons for skipping both. Then I got an e-mail from a Board Member asking if I was going to either. It was like a second chance. As I read the question, the words of my friend immediately came to mind, “Sometimes it is just about showing up.” If my father passed away, I would hope my own boss would show up to support me at his funeral.

Many people will be there to support this woman as she grieves the loss of her father and I’m glad I will be one of them. I’m glad that I reached in my pocket at the right time to find the gem of advice that was just what I needed. Grateful that it won’t be Friday afternoon and I find myself filled with regret, because I thought that showing up was too much of a hassle.

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